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Iraqi Leaders Applaud US Pullout Plan


Iraqi leaders are welcoming U.S. plans to pull American combat troops out of Iraq by the end of August 2010.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says his country's security forces have proven they are ready to take over.

He also said Saturday that the U.S. has agreed on the need to provide Iraq with more weapons and other military equipment.

U.S. President Barack Obama briefed Mr. Maliki on the withdrawal plans Friday, before making an announcement at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. military base in the southeastern state of North Carolina.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi also hailed the U.S. pullout, though he said Saturday that the U.S. still has a responsibility to further prepare Iraqi forces.

President Obama said Friday that Iraq is not yet secure and that the U.S. will continue to pursue diplomatic and political efforts to support the country's security and improve local government. He also said the U.S. has a "strategic interest" and "moral responsibility" to help resettle refugees displaced by the war.

Under the plan, up to 50,000 troops could stay in Iraq to help with training and to combat terrorism. He said he intends to remove all troops by the end of 2011, in accordance with a U.S.-Iraq security deal.

About 142,000 U.S. troops are currently serving in Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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