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Iraqi President Says US Troops Needed for 3 More Years


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says U.S. troops should stay in Iraq for two to three more years. From Paris, Lisa Bryant has more on Mr. Talabani's remarks, made during a visit to the French capital.

Speaking at a conference in Paris, President Talabani said Iraq needs more time to defeat what he described as "international terrorists operating in Iraq."

He urged the U.S.-led coalition to stay longer in the country, not for 20 more years, he said, but two to three more years. Enough time, he said, for Iraq to build up its own forces and then bid the Americans good-bye.

Earlier this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Iraq has 310,000 trained and equipped security personnel. But he suggested that figure is still insufficient to guarantee Iraq's security.

"The goal is to have the Iraqis have a number of security forces that are sufficiently capable and equipped and trained and effective that they can provide for the security in that country and support the government," Rumsfeld said.

The question of keeping troops in Iraq is a highly controversial issue in the United States before next week's congressional elections. The war is becoming deeply unpopular and may be a determining factor for the Democratic Party to win control of Congress.

A poll published in the New York Times indicates a majority of Americans consider the war in Iraq as the most important issue in deciding their vote.

Mr. Talabani is beginning a week-long visit to France and is to meet with French President Jacques Chirac.

The French government opposed the war to oust Saddam Hussein three years ago and has little presence in the conflict-torn Middle Eastern country. Mr. Talabani wants France to be more actively involved in Iraq's development and rebuilding its security forces.

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