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US trapped in Iraq, says Annan

November 22, 2006

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GENEVA, Nov 21: US forces are trapped in Iraq, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Monday, warning Washington must find the right time to leave without plunging the country deeper into chaos.

“On the question of the military presence, it is a difficult issue. The US is in a way trapped in Iraq, trapped in the sense that it cannot stay and it cannot leave,” Mr Annan told a press conference.

“The timing of its departure will have to be optimal,” he added.

An eventual withdrawal of US forces should “not lead to a further deterioration”, Mr Annan cautioned.

He said Washington should instead “try and get it to a level that when it withdraws, the Iraqis themselves will be able to maintain a situation that would ensure a reasonable secure environment”.

With just 40 days to go before the end of his mandate, it was the first time Mr Annan had so clearly stated that the United States should withdraw from Iraq at some point, sources close to the secretary general said.

Mr Annan said in Geneva that one key immediate step for Iraq was to revise its constitution to ensure that power and revenue was shared fairly between its feuding communities, especially to allay the fears of Sunnis.—AFP