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Talabani Wants US to Keep 10,000 Troops in Iraq Long-Term

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says he wants U.S. forces to remain in Iraq for a long time to prevent what he describes as "foreign interference" in the country.

Mr. Talabani tells the Washington Post newspaper that he would like the U.S. to keep at least two air bases and 10,000 troops in Iraq in the long term. There are currently 147,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Mr. Talabani, who is an Iraqi Kurd, says the U.S. would be welcome to establish long-term bases in the Kurdistan autonomous region of northern Iraq. He also says that in some parts of Iraq, Sunni Muslims want the Americans to stay, because they fear the influence of Iran, a majority Shi'ite country.

Mr. Talabani says he believes the Iraqi army will have the capability to fight terrorism within two years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.