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Rumsfeld discusses US troop reductions in Iraq

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Rumsfeld discusses US troop reductions in Iraq


US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has paid an unannounced visit to Baghdad. He and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari agreed that US troop numbers should be sharply reduced, but Rumsfeld signalled that would not happen until after elections in Iraq scheduled for later this year. He said he hoped to make substantial withdrawals in the spring and summer of next year. He also urged the administration to finish the draft constitution before a deadline of August 15, and to resist what he called “interference” by neighbours Syria and Iran. There are around 170,000 Iraqi security forces of various types and 160,000 foreign troops, most of which are American. A Pentagon assessment submitted to the US Congress earlier this month stated that Iraqi forces were not capable of taking on the insurgents on their own. The report contained some frank comments about the performance of Iraqi units in the battle of Falluja last November. It said they were not up to scratch, and that several battalions collapsed.

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