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Iraq: Kurdish Leader Says U.S.-Led Troops Needed For Up To Two More Years

Tokyo, 15 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, a member of the U.S.-appointed interim Governing Council, says Iraq needs U.S.-led forces to maintain order in the country for up to two more years. Talabani spoke on a visit to Tokyo, where he has traveled to seek Japanese assistance for Iraq's reconstruction.

Talabani said the departure of U.S. forces from Iraq would lead "to chaos and civil war." He said the withdrawal of foreign troops will be possible in a year or two, after Iraq holds elections for a new parliament.

Meanwhile, yesterday in the United Nations the Security Council adopted a resolution that welcomed the establishment of the U.S.-formed interim authority in Iraq, but stopped short of formally recognizing the body.

The Governing Council urged the UN to recognize the council as the country's official representative.

The resolution was adopted by 14 votes in favor, with Syria abstaining. Syrian officials say they cannot recognize the council because it is not an independent body.

The Security Council also decided to establish -- for an initial period of 12 months -- a UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, as proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

U.S. and UN officials hope the resolution will lead to broader participation by the international community in reconstruction efforts in U.S.-administered Iraq.