The United States and Iraq have agreed to seek ”a general time horizon” for deeper reductions in American combat troops in Iraq.
Iraqi officials, in a sign of growing confidence as violence decreases, have been pressuring the United States to agree to a specific timeline to withdraw U.S. forces. President Bush has adamantly opposed a timeline, and the White House said Friday that the timeframe being discussed would not be ”an arbitrary date for withdrawal.”
Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki talked about the timing issue as part of discussions over a broader security agreement to keep American troops in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires on December 31, 2008.
The White House says the two leaders, in a conversation on Thursday, agreed that the accord should include ”a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals, such as the resumption of Iraqi security control in their cities and provinces and the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq.”
Iraq has proposed requiring U.S. forces to fully withdraw five years after the Iraqis take the lead on security nationwide — though that precondition could take years.