Monday, August 27, 2007

Sarkozy calls for troop exit from Iraq

PARIS -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday said Iraq's road to recovery begins with a clear timetable for the pullout of foreign troops as he outlined an assertive role for France in world hotspots.

Making his first major foreign policy speech since taking office earlier this year, Sarkozy recalled that France had opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 but that it was now ready to help the international community find a political solution.

"A clear horizon must be defined concerning the withdrawal of foreign troops," Sarkozy said in the address to French ambassadors from 180 countries.

"It is the expected decision on this issue that will force the players to weigh their responsibility and organise themselves accordingly," he said.

Sarkozy stressed that "Iraqi extremists must be marginalized," a "true process of national reconciliation" launched and a timetable for the military withdrawal spelled out in Iraq before France and other governments can play a useful role.

The address came after Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was forced to make an apology for suggesting that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stand down for failing to quell the ongoing violence........

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