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Talabani dismisses group’s report

Mon., Dec. 11, 2006, midnight

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Sunday strongly rejected a U.S. bipartisan panel’s report on U.S. war strategy in Iraq, calling some of its recommendations “dangerous” and a threat to his country’s sovereignty.

“The report does not respect the will of the Iraqis in dealing with their problems,” he said in a statement released by his office.

The report by the Iraq Study Group, released Wednesday, has drawn criticism from several Iraqi political leaders across sectarian lines. Talabani, a Kurd, is the highest-ranking political leader to oppose the study.

Talabani was particularly critical of recommendations to embed thousands of U.S. troops with Iraqi security forces to train and advise them, to centralize control of the country’s oil revenue and to allow former loyalists to deposed president Saddam Hussein back into their old government jobs.

“I think that the report is unjust and unfair and contains some dangerous articles which reduce the sovereignty of Iraq and its constitution,” he said in a Washington Post translation of his comments.

The Iraq Study Group said most U.S. troops should be withdrawn by early 2008. Talabani demanded that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki be given full control over Iraqi security forces before then.

“The report does not respect the will of the Iraqi people in controlling its army and its capability to arm and train the army,” he said.

Al-Maliki’s political adviser, Sadiq al-Rikabi, said Sunday that the prime minister had not yet formed an opinion on Talabani’s statements. “It’s too early to speak for the prime minister to say he’s concerned about this point or that point,” he said.

When asked about Talabani’s comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, former secretary of state James Baker, who co-chaired the study group, said the war would be won politically, not militarily. “And a part of that is national reconciliation, and amnesty is a big part of national reconciliation,” he said.

Talabani embraced the group’s recommendation that the United States and Iraq engage in talks with Iraq’s neighbors, especially Iran and Syria. The Bush administration has been reluctant to do so.

Also Sunday, a soldier was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb detonated near their patrol as it was finishing an early morning security mission west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


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