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Iraqi VP Asks American Ambassador for Timely US Pullout

Iraq’s Vice-President Khudayr Musa Jafar Abbas al-Khuzai in a meeting with Washington’s Ambassador to Baghdad James Jeffry asked the US to remain loyal to the Baghdad-Washington security pact and pull out its troops from the country as stipulated in the agreement, the American envoy said.

“In that meeting, Mr. al-Khuzai stressed the necessity for a timely pullout of the US troops according to the security pact and I declared that the United States respects this demand and will definitely leave Iraq’s soil by the end of 2011,” James Jeffry told FNA.

The US diplomat claimed that his country is loyal to all paragraphs of the Baghdad-Washington security pact, but meantime underlined that his country would be receptive to changes in certain contents of the agreement if requested by Iraq’s officials.

The US military agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington at the end of November 2008 stipulates the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011 as a deadline.

But, the US has been pressing senior Iraqi officials to revise their decision on the US pullout and demand Washington to keep its troops in the country beyond their scheduled departure in the yearend.

Iraqi state officials as well as religious and political figures have all condemned the US attempts to extend the mission of its troops in the country.

A large number of Iraqi politicians and religious leaders believe that the US is seeking to find or even create a pretext for extending its military presence in the country.

On Saturday, a prominent member of the Iraqi parliament cautioned that the US has slowed down training of Iraq’s security forces in a bid to find an excuse to prolong its military presence in the war-torn country.

“The US has deliberately avoided strengthening the Iraqi forces and refrained from providing them with the necessary training in an attempt to prepare the ground for extending the security deal for a number of years,” Nabil Harbo, who is a member of al-Iraqiya Coalition, told FNA on Saturday.

The lawmaker lashed out at the US for its inaction in fulfilling its undertakings as stipulated in the Baghdad-Washington security deal, and stressed training Iraq’s forces is merely an excuse for a longer occupation of the country.

Also after several bomb blasts in the holy city of Karbala took the lives of scores of people, Iraqi politicians condemned the US for the terrorist attacks and said the explosions took place as a result of a US plot to justify its longer military buildup in Iraq.

Spokesman of al-Ahrar Faction in the Iraqi parliament Mashreq Naji took the foreign and occupying forces responsible for the Sunday blasts in the holy city of Karbala, which killed at least 15 and wounded 113 more, and said the US is seeking to create an excuse for extending its mission in Iraq.

“The US occupying forces should be blamed for the yesterday blasts in the holy city of Karbala and they should account for it to the people,” Naji told FNA on Monday.

He said such moves are aimed at stirring or intensifying sectarian strife between the Shiite and Sunni populations in a bid to create a pretext for the extension of the occupying troops’ mission in Iraq.

Naji described unity among different groups and tribes in Iraq as the only way to encounter such plots, and said, “The political groups should keep united against the enemies of Iraq since it is the only way to fight these infidel groups.

“We will be able to foil all their plots through our unity.”

In relevant remarks yesterday, a spokesman for the Shiite Sadr Movement stressed that the multiple blasts in Karbala served as part of a broader plot hatched to spark sectarian strife in Iraq to justify a longer US military presence in the war-torn country.

“These explosions are mainly aimed at intensifying differences and ethnic tension between Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis to prepare the ground for extending the security deal and the US military mission in Iraq,” Sheikh Saleh al-Obeidi told FNA.

Karbala, a major Shiite holy city 80 km (50 miles) Southwest of the capital Baghdad, has been the scene of attacks in the last few years, but violence has decreased sharply both in Karbala and throughout the country during the last few months.

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