Middle-East

Maliki Rules Out Extension of U.S. Troops’ Presence After 2011

BAGHDAD, April 20 (Xinhua) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ruled out signing a new security pact with the United States to extend the presence of U.S. troops in the country, his office said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The Prime Minister rule out possibility for any new security agreement to prolong the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, because the (current) document of the strategic agreement (SOFA) is clear in this respect,” the statement quoted Maliki as saying in an interview with the local television channel of Biladi to be broadcasted later.

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki

However, Maliki noted that not signing another security agreement doesn’t mean that Iraq will not cooperate and coordinate with the United States in the fields of training and arming Iraqi troops, the statement said.

Maliki also confirmed that the Iraqi security forces are now capable of safeguarding security, as they have enough sophisticated weapons and equipment that enable them to carry out all kinds of missions, the statement added.

He said that arming the Iraqi army is going on through signing contracts with French, American and Russian companies to import helicopters.

He also revealed that Iraq has concluded an agreement with the United States, which allow the Americans to maintain heavy weapons, such as artillery and armored vehicles which the Iraqis started to receive recently, it said.

In mid 2010, U.S. troops in Iraq had been reduced to below 50, 000 soldiers. Washington said that the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq are conducting support and training missions.

U.S. military forces are to pull out completely from Iraq by the end of 2011 according to the security pact named Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, signed late in 2008 between Baghdad and Washington.

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