'Iraq Is Not in Chaos'

Monday, September 25, 2006

Last Wednesday, Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth interviewed Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in New York. Excerpts:

Q. What happened in your meeting with President Bush?

A. We told him our progress in trade, the economy, training the army . . . and we asked him to provide the Iraqi army with the necessary arms for improving the capacity of the army. We also thanked him for his continuous support of Iraq. Don't forget, we were living under the worst kind of dictatorship.

What did the president say to you?

That he will continue to support the Iraqi people and will remain there until we ask him to leave.

Reportedly the U.S. government is losing faith in Prime Minister [Nouri al-]Maliki.

President Bush assured us that he will support the Maliki government. We assured him that all Iraqi political parties support Maliki. He has done many important things for Iraq. He has ordered all of the militias to stop their activities.

But they haven't stopped.

They are not operating as before.

When should the U.S. troops leave?

In seven provinces, the American army has withdrawn. The Iraqi army is replacing American forces in many cities. We hope that at the end of this year we will be able to control 12 provinces. We will remain in need of the American and coalition forces until we've trained our army and will be able to face terrorism and defeat it.

How long will that be?

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