Iraq approves draft law for non-US troops withdrawal

December 18th, 2008 - 12:41 am ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, Dec 17 (DPA) Most foreign troops will have to exit Iraq by mid-2009 under a draft legislation approved Wednesday by the Iraqi government.Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the measure must now be approved by the parliament before it can be implemented.

Aside from US troops, who will operate in Iraq through 2011 under a separate agreement, all foreign troops would be scheduled to leave Iraq no later than July 31, 2009, al-Dabbagh said.

The government would keep the right to ask some countries to extend their stay in Iraq for training missions, he added.

Although most foreign troops have already left the country, some contingents from Estonia, Romania, El Salvador and NATO will remain in Iraq through mid-2009.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on a surprise visit to Baghdad Wednesday that British forces will leave Iraq by the end of July 2009.

He confirmed that the withdrawal would begin in the spring and that the bulk of the 4,000 British troops would have “completed their tasks” in the first half of 2009.

The announcement came in a joint statement released during Brown’s talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

According to a joint press release, “The role played by the UK combat forces is drawing to a close. These forces will have completed their tasks in the first half of 2009 and will then leave Iraq.”

Also on Wednesday, a South Korean military source said that some 621 troops finished their mission in Iraq after four years.

Last month, the US and Iraq sealed a security deal that mandates the withdrawal of US troops form Iraqi cities by mid-2009 and a complete withdrawal from the country by 2011.

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