Iraq Leader: Brits Will Go In 2006

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani salutes Iraqi army officers at his house in Baghdad, 05 Novemebr 2005. Talabani received officers from both the new and old Iraqi army on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the fasting holy month of Ramadan. AFP PHOTO/POOL/SABAH ARAR (Photo credit should read SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images) GETTY

In a television interview to be broadcast in Britain on Sunday, Iraq President Jalal Talabani said no Iraqis wanted foreign troops to remain indefinitely in their country, adding that homegrown troops should be ready to take over from British forces in the southern provinces around Basra by the end of next year.

But he warned that an immediate withdrawal of U.S.-led forces would be a catastrophe for Iraq and would lead to civil war, with harmful consequences for the whole Middle East.

"We don't want British forces forever in Iraq. Within one year, I think at the end of 2006, Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the south," Talabani said in the interview with Jonathan Dimbleby for Independent Television. The station released details from the interview before it aired.

Britain's top soldier, Gen. Sir Mike Jackson, said Sunday that the timetable was "well within the range of what is realistically possible."

"The president has said that we could leave within year or so. I would agree we most certainly could. But it's a question of achieving the right conditions," Jackson told the British Broadcasting Corp.'s "Sunday A.M." program.

In other developments:

  • U.N. chief Kofi Annan called for national reconciliation in Iraq during a surprise visit, arriving just as a car bomb exploded near a street market in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad and killed eight weekend shoppers. Annan said the political transition must be "inclusive, transparent and takes into account concerns of all groups."

  • During a visit to Amman, Jordan, Iraq's defense minister slammed Syria on Saturday for letting militants train on its soil for attacks in Iraq and warned that Arab capitals won't be saved if the "Iraqi volcano explodes."

    Saadoun al-Dulaimi's visit to Jordan follows Wednesday's triple hotel suicide bombings in this kingdom's capital, Amman, by the al Qaeda in Iraq terror group, which killed 57 people.

  • Also, the highest-ranking official still at large from Saddam Hussein's regime, a man accused by the United States of playing a key role in organizing the insurgency against coalition forces, has died, a Baathist Web site reported.

    Saturday's posting on a Web site run by former Baath Party members appeared to confirm an e-mail announcing the death of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri that circulated Friday. He was believed to be at least 62.

    CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports that the death may not impact the insurgent effort because most of the cells operate independently and do not need orders from above.

  • Maj. Gen. Mahdi Sabyh Ibrahim announced Saturday that 310 people had been arrested in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, after a series of car bombings, ambushes and other acts of violence.

  • Another Sunni Muslim politician who claims to have contacts with insurgent groups said Saturday that some of its members will run next month, and he gave their demands and conditions to start peace talks with U.S. forces.

    Pressed on whether his assessment amounted to a commitment, Talabani replied: "Well, I haven't been in negotiations, but in my opinion and according to my study of the situation, I can say that it is the just estimation of the situation ... There is not one Iraqi that wants that forever the troops remain in the country."

    He said, however, that immediate withdrawal "would lead to a kind of civil war and ... we will lose what we have done for liberating Iraq from worst kind of dictatorship."

    "Instead of having a democratic, stable Iraq, we will have a civil war in Iraq, we will have troubles in Iraq, (and they) will affect all the Middle East."

    Talabani called for a gradual pullout, with close coordination between coalition nations and the Iraqi authorities.

    During his Iraq visit, Annan referred to the need to curb ongoing violence — both in Iraq and neighboring Jordan, where suicide bombings Wednesday killed at least 57 people in three hotels in the capital of Amman. The al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group, which has carried out scores of attacks in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the Jordan bombings.

    "Even those who are at a distance feel the pain and the misery that is being inflicted on families and innocent civilians," Annan said.

    U.N. operations in Iraq were scaled down sharply after a truck bomber attacked the world body's Baghdad headquarters on Aug. 19, 2003. The attack killed 23 people, including the top U.N. envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

    "The Secretary General's trip to Iraq and Jordan puts the proposed U.N. terrorism convention on the front burner," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk, "because the lesson learned from Iraq is that the U.S. cannot go it alone in the war on terror."

    "Annan's work on the Hariri assassination investigation in Syria and Lebanon as well as in the Middle East peace talks and the Jordan attacks have enabled the Security Council to shape a global approach to fighting terror," Falk reported from the U.N. "With more regional interest in stopping arms flows to terror groups and cutting off financing, Annan's hand is strengthened to get a strong counter-terror convention passed."

    As Annan arrived, a car rigged with explosives detonated in the New Baghdad neighborhood as crowds shopped there, killing eight, police Lt. Col. Hassan Chaloub said. Dozier reports the car bomb turned the Saturday morning market into an inferno,
    • Joel Roberts

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