British, US troops to leave Iraq by 2011

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London, Nov 15 : Iraq's national security adviser has said Baghdad is likely to approve a military pact with a timetable for the withdrawal of all US troops by 2011 and British troops by the end of next year.

Muwafaq al-Rubaie said that Iraq's Cabinet could pass the controversial Iraq-US security pact as early as this weekend.

"I honestly believe we have reached now a very good text... And this text will secure the complete, full, irrevocable sovereignty of Iraq," he said, who is also Baghdad's chief negotiator on the security pact.

"I believe, I hope, that the council of ministers will pass the new text Sunday and (then) it will be passed on to the parliament," The Telegraph quoted him, as saying.

Baghdad has been racing to secure separate agreements with both the United States and Britain to replace the UN mandate currently governing the presence of foreign troops in the country, which expires on December 31.

The US and Iraq have been wrangling over the document, the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a wide-ranging US military pact, for months.

The draft agreement calls for US troops to pull out of Iraqi cities by June 2009 and from the entire country by the end of 2011.

But Rubaie said Iraq was open to shortening the timetable to match US President-Elect Barack Obama's campaign pledge to withdraw from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

Rubaie meanwhile said he expected all British troops would be gone by 2010.

A British defence ministry spokesman in London said in response that Britain has "no timetable" for the withdrawal of its roughly 4,000 troops in Iraq, the vast majority of whom are based in the southern city of Basra.

ANI

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