Monday, May 11, 2009
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki assured visiting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday that his country’s security will be unaffected by the planned American troop withdrawal from Iraqi cities.
“We don’t need big numbers of (US) military forces inside the cities after we get control of them,” Maliki said in a statement after talks with the top US lawmaker, who arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit.
“The responsible withdrawal (of US troops) will not affect the security situation,” Maliki added.
A fierce critic of the 2003-US invasion ordered by former president George W. Bush, Pelosi’s one-day visit came as US troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq’s urban areas by the end of next month despite a spike in violence.
The withdrawal is a key part of a military accord signed by Baghdad and Washington last November that will also see US troops leave the country by the end of 2011.
Maliki said Iraq’s military efforts were now concentrated on improving its intelligence services.
The US Congress, for its part, should try to develop bilateral relations focused on the scientific and economic agreements signed by the two countries, he said.
“Under stability, we are seeking to develop our economy, especially the oil industry, after multinationals have already come to work and invest in the sector,” he said.
Pelosi said that Washington would stick to its part of the agreement on troop withdrawals.