Iraq's prime minister on Thursday warned that a political dispute likely to delay January elections was a threat to security, but noted U.S. soldiers would not have to delay their timetable for leaving because of the vote. "Linking the withdrawal process with the elections is meaningless," Nouri al-Maliki told The Associated Press. "I think the withdrawal schedule of U.S. forces will continue as it is now and the American presence in Iraq will finish by the end of 2011 in accordance with the timetable."
He slammed Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi for vetoing an election law because he wanted more seats for Iraqis abroad. "The use of the veto by Mr. al-Hashemi, and persisting with it, will put the country, in terms of security, the economy and the constitution, at grave risk," said al-Maliki.
"I think that the issue has reached its peak, and I don't think that it is in the interests of anybody that Mr. Tariq al-Hashemi continues to veto. He will inevitably back down," said al-Maliki.