Egypt conference urges support for Iraq security transfer

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH: The final statement of a conference on Iraq urged all participants on Friday to support the transfer of security responsibilities in the country from US-led to Iraqi forces. The participants agreed to… welcome offers by Arab and other countries to support the development of the professional capabilities of the Iraqi armed forces, said the statement, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. Iraq s neighbors and key international players meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh called for the speedy transfer of security responsibilities but did not call for a withdrawal timetable. The participants pledged to renew their support for the government of Iraq s efforts to accelerate the preparedness of its armed forces to assume full security and defence responsibilities in their country.

The communique added that such a process will pave the way for the conclusion of the mandate of the multinational forces, whose presence will not be open-ended.

It added that ending the coalition forces presence in Iraq would come upon the request of and in accordance with timing to be agreed by the government of Iraq.

Several Arab countries have repeatedly demanded a deadline for a US troop pull-out, something both the Baghdad government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Washington have always refused to set. Commenting on the final statement during a news conference, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said: To have unanimity… this was the maximum.

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