Iraq seeks to stop foreign withdrawal plans
Iraq-Regional-USA, Politics, 11/26/2005
The Interim Iraqi government seeks to convince several countries not to withdraw their forces from Iraq after these countries announced plans to this end.
The Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiar Zeibari urged Japan to keep its forces in southern Iraq, saying that early withdrawal of what he called the coalition forces will lead to more violence.
He said in a press conference in Tokyo, after talks with the Japanese prime minister, that his country achieved progress in enhancing security, but added that Iraq is facing an important time before the legislative elections due in mid December.
He considered that the withdrawal is considered as sending the wrong message to what he called "terrorists" in that the coalition is dismantling and running away, and that their plans and policies to undermine this operations is succeeding.
He said he cannot specify a certain schedule for withdrawal, but noted that the matter requires months at least, after the formation of the new Iraqi government.
The Japanese official told journalists later that Tokyo discusses steps to help the Iraqi people and that it did not say whether it will keep its forces. He promised to continue support for the efforts of rebuilding Iraq.
The Japanese prime minister has to take a decision shortly over extending Japanese forces in Iraq for two years.
In Warsaw, the Polish defense minister Radoslav Sikoriski announced that his country will withdraw its forces from Iraq next year. He added that the security situation in the area situated to the south and center of Iraq which is supervised by the Polish soldiers has been improved enough that it can be handed over to the Iraqi forces.
In the beginning, Poland contributed a force of 2500 soldiers, and the government which was toppled in the elections of September had planned to withdraw the remaining 1400 soldiers by the fall of January, 2006.
Lithuania decided to reduce number of sits forces in Iraq by the beginning of next year in the course of coordination with the Polish forces working under its leadership.
The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced that his country will hand over within the next weeks to the interim government the schedule for pulling out its 2900 soldiers. He expected the beginning of withdrawing the Italian forces by the end of next year, in collaboration with the Iraqi governments.
Officials at the US defense department disclosed several days ago that the American army will reduce number of its soldiers to 138,000 after the elections of December, and that the reduction will be made to 100,000 soldiers if conditions permit.
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