Bush: US troops likely to stay after Iraq election
American soldiers will withdraw from Iraq if the new leaders to be elected on Sunday requested it, President George W. Bush said in an interview published on Friday by The New York Times. He added, however, that he expected the Iraqis to ask US troops to remain "as helpers, not occupiers."
“I’ve heard the voices of the people that presumably will be in a position of responsibility after these elections, though you never know,” Bush said. “But it seems like most of the leadership there understands that there will be a need for coalition troops at least until Iraqis are able to fight.”
He said he believed “most of the leaders that are there understand that the coalition troops are very important to helping them provide the stability necessary for people to gain confidence in their government.”
Asked if the US forces should withdraw if the new Iraqi government requested it, Bush said: “Yes, absolutely. And this is a sovereign government -- they’re on their feet.”