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Maliki says US troops must leave Iraq by end of ''11

WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (KUNA) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki affirmed in remarks published Tuesday that no US troops will stay in Iraq after the end of 2011 once the Status of Forces Agreement expires between the two countries.
"The last American soldier will leave Iraq, this agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed," said Maliki in an interview published today by the Wall Street Journal.
He further noted that there is a "paranoia" in the United States about an alliance between Iraq and Iran affirming "that is impossible and we reject it whether it comes from Iran, Turkey or the Arabs." Some Iraqi and US officials were suggesting that deployment of US troops, now at the level of 50,000 soldiers, could be extended as the security and political situation remain fragile in Iraq.
Maliki said if US troops stay beyond the end of 2011 this would need a new Status of Forces Agreement to be agreed by the Iraqi parliament, while the Wall Street Journal quoted a senior US official saying that Maliki is "exactly right" about US plans in Iraq.
Maliki defended the integration of the movement if the Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr saying that those militias "are now part of the government and have entered the political process" and noted that the Sadr movement "is moving in a satisfactory direction of taking part in the government, renouncing violence and abandoning military activity, and that is why we welcome it." "Not a single militia or gang can confront Iraqi forces and take over a street or a house, this is finished, we are comfortable about that," he concluded about the security situation in Iraq. (end) jm.bs KUNA 282048 Dec 10NNNN