After Bush returned from his trip to Iraq this week, President Bush attacked those calling for a timetable for withdrawal. He said Iraqis had “concerns” that a timetable would disrupt their strategy to create a secure and democratic Iraq:
And the willingness of some to say that if we’re in power we’ll withdraw on a set timetable concerns people in Iraq, because they understand our coalition forces provide a sense of stability, so they can address old wrongs and develop their strategy and plan to move forward. They need our help and they recognize that. And so they are concerned about that.
Today, the AP reports that Iraq’s Vice President, Tariq al-Hashimi, personally asked President Bush to set a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces the day before. Iraq’s President, Jalal Talabani, said he supported the request:
Iraq’s vice president has asked President Bush for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, the Iraqi president’s office said. Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, made the request during his meeting with Bush on Tuesday, when the U.S. president made a surprise visit to Iraq.
“I supported him in this,” President Jalal Talabani said in a statement released Wednesday. Al-Hashimi’s representatives could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Separately, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that Iraqi security forces should be completely in charge of the nation’s security in 18 months.