Friday, November 03, 2006

U.S. troops must stay, Talabani says

As debate on the Iraq war continues during the American election, the New York Times seems to play down a crucial report in that debate that its sister paper carries, although, naturally, front page status is out of the question for Katrin Bennhold's International Herald Tribune report and the story is thus relegated to page 4. The day after the report, the Times was downplaying it even more by relegating it to two paragraphs, and that in the second half of Kirk Semple's hand-wringing story on "discord" between the U.S. and Iraqis.

President Jalal Talabani said Thursday that American-led troops should remain in Iraq for at least two more years to give the country time to build up its security forces.

His remarks, delivered at the start of a six-day visit in France, came as pressure in the United States and Britain is building to bring home the 150,000 soldiers currently on the ground in Iraq. Amid continuing violence and a rising death toll, the war has become the No. 1 issue for American voters ahead of next week's midterm elections.

"We need time," Talabani told a conference in Paris before meeting President Jacques Chirac. "I believe two to three years could be enough to build up our forces before we can say bye-bye and thanks to our friends."

Last week, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, urged the United States and Britain not to "cut and run."
Another thing worth pointing out is that, needless to say, "some French diplomats voiced concern that two or three years seemed a long time." With Jacques Chirac reminding everybody of the importance of setting "a perspective for a pull-out", it is refreshing to be reminded how solidaristic and fraternal the French sound in voicing concern (this has nothing to do with getting the pesky Yanks out of the way, you understand; it must be their ever-so-friendly feelings for those they keep reminding us are their American friends…)