Iraqi PM asks Brit forces to leave as they are no more needed to maintain security thereOctober 13th, 2008 - 2:16 pm ICT by ANI
Baghdad , Oct 13 (ANI): Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked the British forces to leave the country as they were no longer needed to maintain security there. He also criticised a secret deal made last year by Britain with the al-Mahdi Army, Iraqs largest Shia militia, saying that Basra had been left at the mercy of militiamen who cut the throats of women and children after the British withdrawal from the city.
We thank them for the role they have played, but I think that their stay is not necessary for maintaining security and control. There might be a need for their experience in training and some technological issues, but as a fighting force, I dont think that is necessary, timesonline.com quoted al-Maliki as saying in an interview.
The Iraqi PMs harshest words were for the actions last year of British troops in Basra , which came under Britain s responsibility after the 2003 invasion. They stayed away from the confrontation, which gave the gangs and militias the chance to control the city, he said, referring to a decision by British Forces to leave a palace in Basra for their airport base.
The situation deteriorated so badly that corrupted youths were carrying swords and cutting the throats of women and children. The citizens of Basra called out for our help, and we moved to regain the city.
The Iraqi leader, however, emphasized that the page had been turned and he looked forward to a friendly, productive relationship with London . The Iraqi arena is open for British companies and British friendship, for economic exchange and positive cooperation in science and education, he said.
Gordon Brown is expected to cut troop numbers significantly next year from the 4100-strong contingent as Britain s mission evolves to a more diplomatic presence. But, even the status of British non-combat personnel is in doubt because negotiations on their presence beyond this year have yet to begin, said al-Maliki.
A status of forces agreement (Sofa) between Baghdad and London is needed to authorise the presence of any British forces in the country beyond December 31, when a UN Security Council mandate expires. Al-Maliki said that he did not know why negotiations had not begun, speculating that the world financial turmoil had distracted the British. We had decided to start them, he added.
Al-Maliki said he hopes that the pact with the US will be approved by the end of the year. Failure to do so would force him to ask the UN to extend its mandate for all foreign troops to stay in Iraq . However, if a US-Iraq deal is clinched in time, Britain could be caught out. (ANI)
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