Last updated: 26 November, 2011

Iraq president says US troops needed for training

Iraqi forces need an American troop presence or at least US training forces, President Jalal Talabani has said, according to a Saturday statement on the Iraqi presidency’s website.

Regarding “internal security, I believe that the police and army forces are capable of maintaining security as it is now,” Talabani said in an interview with Iraqiya television, according to the statement.

“But there is a big problem in air and naval defence, and in using new weapons,” Talabani said.

“I have read, as the president of the republic, reports from officers responsible… for the air force and the navy and armour and infantry,” he said.

“And all these reports found that Iraq needs an American presence or at least the presence of American trainers, because they say we are not capable now of defending our skies and our waters, nor to use the weapons we will buy or obtain from the Americans.”

Iraqi officers “want the Americans to stay either as trainers or as forces to help Iraq against terrorism and against external interventions,” Talabani said.

But he added: “I do not think the US withdrawal will be a disaster for Iraq, as I believe Iraq is able to maintain its internal security.”

US President Barack Obama announced on October 21 that all US troops would depart Iraq by the end of the year, bringing to a close an almost nine-year war that has left thousands of US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead, and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.