Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki rejected comments by his spokesman that U.S. troops may stay in Iraq for ten years, according to a statement Xinhua obtained on Saturday.
"What Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh said about Iraqi forces will need ten years to be ready was only his personal view and does not represent the Iraqi government," Maliki's office said in the statement issued late on Friday.
On Thursday Dabbagh said at a Pentagon press briefing that some U.S. forces could be needed for 10 years. "We do understand that the Iraqi military is not going to get built out in the three years. We do need many more years. It might be 10 years."
Dabbagh said that the terms of any extended presence would be negotiated between the next Iraqi and U.S. governments.
But Dabbagh's comments contrasted with what was stated in the security agreement signed last month between the United States and Iraq, that the U.S. troops are to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by mid 2009 and withdraw entirely from the country by the end of 2011.