Obama stand strengthened

Claudia Parsons

Claudia Parsons

SAN DIEGO - Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama, pictured, said this weekend that comments by Iraqi leaders calling for a timetable for withdrawal of US troops added weight to his stand in favour of such a timetable.

Obama said the United States should not commit to a long-term occupation of Iraq when it signs a status of forces agreement.

US President George Bush's administration is in the process of negotiating such an agreement five years after the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

Last Monday Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki suggested for the first time that a timetable be set for the departure of US forces.

"There's no doubt that my core position, which is that we need a timetable for withdrawal, not only to relieve pressure on our military, but also to deal with deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and to put more pressure on the Iraqi government, is now a position that is also held by the Iraqi government itself," Obama said. - Reuters