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Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

U.S. responds to Iraqis’ calls for withdrawal

November 23, 2005


— Responding to a statement by Iraqis recognizing a right of resistance, the State Department on Tuesday said they had endorsed neither terrorism nor violence.

"They are calling on people to confront terrorism, so I think that it is very positive," spokesman Sean McCormack said of a statement adopted by Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders at a reconciliation conference in Cairo, Egypt, backed by the Arab League.

The statement, he said, deals with the legitimate right to peaceful protest, peaceful expression of differences. And, he said, the United States had "no quarrel with that idea."

"Take a look at exactly what they are doing," McCormack told reporters at the daily department briefing for the news media. "They are coming out against violence."

Responding to a call by the Iraqi factions for a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, the State Department said the U.S.-led coalition remains committed to fostering stability and security in Iraq.

"We will stay as long as it takes to achieve those goals and no longer," a State Department spokeswoman, Julie Reside, said of the Iraqis' consensus statement.

The call for a timetable, cast in the form of a demand, seemed to parallel similar demands among a growing number of members of Congress.

The State Department said, however, that President Bush's policy on U.S. troops in Iraq was clear. It also complimented the Iraqi ethnic groups for "coming together to talk about ways that they can end violence" in their country and the Arab League for sponsoring the conference and making a commitment to increase its diplomatic support for Iraq.

Spokesman McCormack stressed that the Iraqis' call for a timetable was coupled with expressions of hope that Iraq could build up its military and security forces "in order to enjoy peace and stability and get rid of the terrorism that targets Iraqis" and destroys their national wealth.


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