U.S. commander says military on track to pull out of Iraq

08:18, July 22, 2010      

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U.S. military is on track to meet its drawdown goals in Iraq, Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq said Wednesday in Washington.

Briefing reporters in Pentagon, Odierno said the U.S. forces " will be at 50,000, probably by the last week of August." With 70, 000 troops still in Iraq -- down from 145,000 in January 2009 -- the military is on schedule to meet President Barack Obama's September drawdown goals, Odierno said.

The U.S. forces last year have pulled out of Iraqi cities and are working to formally end combat operations by Sept. 1 of this year, cutting the U.S. military force from just under 90,000 to 50, 000. A full withdrawal is also in sight at the end of 2011.

The main challenges left for Iraq's independence are political unity and financial solvency, Odierno said. Iraq's political blocs are still discussing the formation of a new government, months after the March 7 elections.

"We clearly want a unity government," the general said, "and I think there is no choice in that. To be successful, Iraq must have a unity government."

Odierno also said it is important for the United States to continue to support Iraq even after all U.S. troops leave. "It's in our best interest that we continue to support them," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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