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Biden Calls for Autonomy for Iraq's Main Groups

A high ranking U.S. Senate Democrat says dividing Iraq into federal areas along ethnic lines will increase security and allow the United States to withdraw most of its troops.

Joseph Biden, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says Iraq's Sunni Arab, Shi'ites and Kurds should be allowed to run their own affairs while leaving border defense, foreign affairs, and oil revenues to a central government in Baghdad.

Biden made the argument for a federal system based on Bosnia in an essay he co-wrote with Council on Foreign Relations president Leslie Gelb in Monday's New York Times.

Their plan also calls for making U.S. aid to Iraq dependent on Iraq protecting the rights of women and minorities. They also call on President Bush to design a plan to pull out most U.S. troops from Iraq by 2008.

The plan also calls for a conference held under the United Nations or another international umbrella group to pledge respect for Iraq's borders and government.