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US and UK supposedly agree on Iraq exit strategy

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1400634,00.html Hoon and Rumsfeld agree Iraq exit strategy Patrick Wintour and Ewen MacAskill Friday January 28,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2005
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      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1400634,00.html

      Hoon and Rumsfeld agree Iraq exit strategy

      Patrick Wintour and Ewen MacAskill
      Friday January 28, 2005
      The Guardian

      The US and Britain have privately agreed an exit
      strategy from Iraq based on doubling the number of
      local police trainees and setting up Iraqi units that
      would act as a halfway house between the police and
      the army.

      The agreement was reached on Monday between the US
      secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and his British
      counterpart, Geoff Hoon.

      It was based on recommendations from retired US
      general Gary Luck, sent to Iraq by the Pentagon last
      month to look at the failings of Iraq's security
      force.

      The more aggressive police force is designed gradually
      to replace the 150,000 coalition troops and will form
      the centrepiece of plans for Britain and the US to
      quit Iraq.

      Although no deadline has been set for withdrawal -
      partly, British sources say, because it may encourage
      the insurgents - Britain has made a phased pull-out
      its top priority.

      "Everything the defence secretary is working towards
      now is an exit strategy, but without a public
      timetable," said a British military source.

      Spanish and Italian forces could be asked to help
      train the Iraqis, a British defence source said.
      Thousands of troops from the multinational force would
      back up the Iraqi police which, at present, has a
      reputation for desertion in the face of the
      insurgency.

      Although the US and Britain would like to pull out as
      soon as Iraq is stable, Gen Luck said it could be
      years before the Iraqi police was ready.

      The Pentagon this week said it expected to maintain
      150,000 troops in Iraq for at least the next two
      years.

      Britain said yesterday it would send 220 more soldiers
      to Iraq to help fill a gap left by the Netherlands
      which is pulling out in March.

      If the build-up of reliable Iraqi security forces
      could be speeded up, Britain can see various staging
      posts for a phased withdrawal. Dates include August
      15, when a constitution is to be agreed by the
      assembly. By 15 December, there is due to be a new
      national election.

      Charles Kennedy demanded a clear statement yesterday
      on the future status of British troops. He called on
      Tony Blair to set out "a proper exit strategy,
      including the phased withdrawal of British troops, as
      the security situation allows."

      � Insurgents trying to disrupt Sunday's election
      killed 19 Iraqis and a US marine yesterday and bombed
      polling stations.
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