Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (file photo) (epa)
September 10, 2007 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says his country's security forces need more time before they are ready to take over responsibility for security operations from multinational troops.
But al-Maliki today told Iraq's parliament that his government had forestalled the possibility of civil war. He said that violence had dropped 75 percent in Baghdad and in Al-Anbar Governorate since the surge in U.S. troop numbers earlier this year.
"We have managed to stop Iraq from sliding into the abyss of a sectarian war, which was threatening our beloved Iraq," al-Maliki said. "We are fully convinced that national reconciliation is for us the only choice that will take Iraq to the realm of tranquility."
Al-Maliki was speaking hours before the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and U.S. Ambasador Ryan Crocker were due to testify to the U.S. Congress on the situation in Iraq and the outcome of the troop surge strategy.
(AP, AFP, Reuters)