Biden: U.S. Will Comply with Iraq Government on Withdrawal
Thursday, September 17, 2009; 3:07 PM
BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 -- Vice President Biden said Thursday that the United States would comply with Iraq's wishes in deciding when to withdraw troops, as Iraqi leaders weigh whether to push for an accelerated pullout from the country.
Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, Biden declined to say whether he believed that the Iraqi government would move to alter the so-called status-of-forces agreement. But the vice president, who like other administration officials has sought to avoid the appearance of interfering in Iraqi affairs, said that whatever decision is made, "we will abide by it."
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom Biden met during the vice president's three-day trip to Iraq, has expressed support for a proposed referendum that would hasten by a year the 2011 withdrawal deadline for all U.S. forces in Iraq. Under the current agreement, the 130,000-member U.S. military force in Iraq will be reduced to roughly 50,000 by August.