Foreign troops to withdraw from Iraq by 2011

By Xinhua,

Baghdad : Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Monday that US and Iraqi negotiators have reached an agreement that says that foreign troops would withdraw from Iraq by 2011.

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“There is an agreement between the two sides that there would be no foreign soldiers in Iraq by the end of 2011,” Maliki said in a statement by his office.

“We have also agreed that there would be military actions (by foreign troops) only if the Iraqi government agrees,” the statement quoted Maliki as saying in his speech during a meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders in Baghdad.

However, Maliki admitted that despite substantial progress in the talks, there are still profound differences between the two sides.

Earlier, an Iraqi local television said that Maliki has demanded changes to some points of the draft deal on the status of US troops in Iraq beyond 2008.

On Friday, Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, Iraq’s chief negotiator, told CNN that the Iraqi and the US negotiators have reached a draft agreement on a proposed withdrawal timetable and other issues on the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2008.

Hamoud said that the US troops would stay clear of Iraqi cities by June 2009 and would completely pull out from Iraq by the end of 2011.

The US side has been rejecting a specific timetable for pulling out troops, arguing that it must depend on the situation on the ground in Iraq.