Obama, Maliki agree on timetable for withdrawal
White House hopeful Barack Obama on Tuesday ended a tour to Iraq by sharing a common vision with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of withdrawing US forces from the country by 2010.
"The prime minister said that now is an appropriate time to start to plan for the reorganisation of our troops in Iraq -- including their numbers and missions," Obama said in a statement released with the two other senators. "He stated his hope that US combat forces could be out of Iraq in 2010."
A separate statement issued by Maliki's office after the two leaders met on Monday said Obama supported the gains achieved by Iraqi and US forces in areas of security and stability. "I congratulate you (Maliki) on the achievements of your government ... I am supportive and committed to preserving the gains the Iraqi government achieved under your leadership," the statement in Arabic quoted Obama as saying.
Before winding up his Iraq visit, Obama on Tuesday met anti-Qaeda fighters in Anbar province. According to AFP, Jamal al-Mashhadani, a spokesman for the province, said Obama met Anbar governor Mamoon Sami Rasheed and several leaders of anti-Qaeda groups, including Sheikh Ahmed Abu Reesha, head of the Anbar Awakening Council.
Obama has put the priority on a time-frame for the withdrawal of troops. "My argument would be we need to have some sort of time-frame because we have to start planning if we want to get an additional two brigades in Afghanistan for example. We've got to start planning now," he said.