Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari called for a swift handover of control in Iraq from American to Iraqi hands. The announcement was made at a joint news conference with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld following his surprise visit to Iraq on Wednesday.
"The great desire of the Iraqi people is to see the coalition forces be on their way out as they (new Iraqi security forces) take more responsibility," Jaafari told reporters.
At the same briefing the top US commander in Iraq, General George Casey, told reporters that he believed the US will be able to "make fairly substantial reductions" in US forces in Iraq in the Spring and summer of next year, according to Reuters.
To facilitate such a withdrawal, Jaafari called for cooperation between his government and coalition forces in Iraq, stressing the need for coordination between the two. "We do not want to be surprised by a withdrawal that is not in connection with our Iraqi timing,"' he told reporters. The Prime Minister also called for the accelerated training of Iraqi forces on the part of the US.
Earlier Wednesday, Rumsfeld arrived unannounced in the nation's capital with a series of messages for the country's leaders, according to The AP. He said he would be pushing the Iraqis to provide more people who can be trained by U.S. personnel to handle the growing number of detainees in the country, now estimated to number at least 15,000. Rumsfeld added that Iraqi leaders must take a more aggressive stance against what he called harmful interference from neighboring Syria and Iran. © 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )