Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hey Russ! Are You Listening?

US troop presence keeps neighbors from invading Iraq: Talabani
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that the US military presence in Iraq keeps neighbors from invading his country. "The American presence has always prevented any kind of foreign invasion to Iraq," Talabani said. "That's one of the main reasons why we think that we need an American presence, even symbolical, in the country to prevent our neighbors attacking us," he said at a forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think thank. Talabani also said Baghdad could not "further tolerate" neighbors' interference in its internal affairs. "I think that our neighbors must understand that our patience is limited," he said, refusing to single out countries but adding "we mean all of them." Iraq shares borders with Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Asked if there was concern over aggression from Turkey, Talabani said: "I don't think there is any danger for invasion by Turkey to Iraq." Iraq has "good relations" with the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and could help Ankara in its conflict with the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), he said. "We could convince PKK to stop fighting in Turkey," the Iraqi leader said. Talabani also insisted that Iraq would not spiral down into civil war. "There would be no civil war. We have problems, we have some kind of extremists who are fighting against each other. They are not representing the whole society," he said. He also defended the US military presence in Iraq. "The immediate departure of coalition forces would only unleash the terrorists," Talabani said. "I cannot promise when or how the American presence will completely end in Iraq but I can promise that American soldiers do not fight in vain."