Iraqi president: it's time to withdraw

The United States should be able to start withdrawing up to 50,000 soldiers from Iraq by the end of the year, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has told the American newspaper the Washington Post.

He explained that there are now enough Iraqi forces trained up to take control of the main cities. In the interview, Talabani said he wanted to discuss reducing the American forces during the private meeting he will have on Tuesday with US president George W. Bush in Washington.

He also said that he believes the United States can start pulling out some of its troops straight away. US officials, such as defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, have previously said they will only start withdrawing once the Iraqi forces are in a position to take over.

Italy - another member of the coalition - started reducing its troops presence this month, the AKI reports.

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