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US Senator Offers Plan For Gradual Withdrawal Of Troops From Iraq

Washington (AFP) Nov 22, 2005
A leading Democratic senator has unveiled a plan to gradually withdraw US troops from Iraq, just days after another respected member of Congress caused a stir by calling for an immediate pullout of US forces.

Senator Joseph Biden has said that he would like to see 50,000 US troops pulled out from Iraq in 2006, with additional troops to be withdrawn the following year.

The timing of a US troop pull-out from Iraq, Biden said, is "the question on the minds of most Americans."

"Here is my conviction: in 2006, American troops will begin to leave Iraq in large numbers. By the end of the year, I believe we will have redeployed at least 50,000 troops.

"In 2007, a significant number of the remaining 100,000 American soldiers will follow," he told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York late Monday.

Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made his remarks after highly-regarded Democratic lawmaker, Representative John Murtha, last week said US troops should be withdrawn immediately.

But Biden, said a complete troop withdrawal would be a mistake, despite the mounting cost and casualties of the US military operation in Iraq.

"I still believe we can preserve our fundamental security interests in Iraq as we begin to redeploy our forces," Biden said.

"That will require the (President George W. Bush administration) not to stay the course, but to change course, and to do it now."

He agreed with Murtha, however, in calling for a greater emphasis on political efforts to reach a solution in Iraq.

"Iraq cannot be salvaged by military might alone," Biden said.

"We need a regional strategy that persuades Iraqs neighbors to wield their influence with the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds for political compromise. They will do it, because no one other than the terrorists has an interest in Iraq descending into civil war," said Biden.

Biden added: "We need a civilian commitment in Iraq equal to our military one."

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Iraq Troop Withdrawals Driven By Politics
Washington (UPI) Nov 22, 2005
The U.S. military will recommend the number of troops that can be prudently withdrawn from Iraq - if any - but the final decision for the American military presence there will be up to policy officials in Washington. And they will consider political factors as well when they craft a final plan, a top U.S. general in Iraq said Tuesday.

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