US committed to withdraw troops from Iraq by end of 2011: Biden

Baghdad, Jan 14 (ANI): US Vice President Joe Biden, who is in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders about the future of U.S. troops in the country, has said America is committed to leaving the war-torn country by the end of 2011.

Before landing in Baghdad on Wednesday, Biden had visited Kabul, where he met Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Islamabad, where he met with top Pakistani officials.

The New York Times quoted Iraq's re-elected Prime Minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, as saying in a statement that Biden had assured him that the United States was "serious about activating the strategic framework agreement," which includes the deadline for troop withdrawal.

Earlier, on being asked why he was in Iraq, Biden said: "I'm here to help the Iraqis celebrate the progress they have made. They formed a government. And, that's a good thing. They have a long way to go."

He also said that Iraq would be a "democratic", and "prosperous" country in the near future.

"For the first time, I would argue in their history, on the verge of literally creating a country that will be democratic, sustainable and, God willing, prosperous. And it can have a dramatic impact on this entire region," he added.

However, even after Biden's assurance, many issues regarding Iraq's new government and the future of the American involvement in that country still remain unresolved as al-Maliki, has not yet appointed the country's three ministries in charge of security. Instead, he has assumed temporary control of those agencies himself, the paper said.

Meanwhile, Sadrist lawmaker Jawad Kadhum said that the US was trying to find "alternatives" to the withdrawal agreement, adding that his party was not open to such reconsiderations.

"They are occupiers that are taking away the wealth of Iraq. As long as there is an American soldier or any presence or any U.S. military vehicle in Iraq, it will be disturbing us and all Iraqis that are looking for their freedom," Kadhum added. (ANI)

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