Aide: Iraqi leader's comment misunderstood by reporters

Monday, July 16, 2007

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's prime minister was misunderstood when he said the Americans could leave "any time they want" an aide said Sunday.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told reporters Saturday that the Iraqi army and police were capable of maintaining security when American troops leave.

"We say in full confidence that we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at any time they want," al-Maliki said.

Those comments appeared to undercut President Bush's contention that the 155,000 U.S. troops must remain in Iraq because the Iraqis are not capable of providing for their own security.

The aide, Yassin Majid, said the prime minister meant that efforts to bolster Iraq's security forces would continue "side-by-side with the withdrawal."

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