Iraqi troops ready for full security role by late 2007: minister
CANBERRA (AFP) - Iraq's newly-minted army will be ready to take over the security of the war-torn state from US and allied troops by late next year or early 2008, Iraq's oil minister said during a visit to Australia.
However, the Australian government, under growing pressure to pull out its troops soon, said the timetable was "optimistic", and pledged to keep forces in Iraq until the Iraqi military could handle security by itself.
During the first visit to the country by a member of the US-backed Iraqi cabinet, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said it would not take years for foreign troops to be able to withdraw from the conflict.
"Almost half of the country now is almost totally under the control of the Iraqi forces," he told reporters, as violence escalated further in Iraq's civil war.
"The other half, we are planning by the end of 2007, perhaps 2008, to have sufficiently trained and equipped Iraqi forces to take over responsibility."
Iraqi troops ready for full security role by late 2007: minister - Yahoo! News