Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 18:33 UK

McCain predicts Iraq exit by 2013

John McCain
Mr McCain has been a vocal supporter of the war in Iraq

US Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has said that, if elected, he would aim to remove most US troops from Iraq by 2013.

The prediction came in a speech in which Senator McCain sketched out a vision of what he would want to have achieved by the end of his first term.

Mr McCain did not specify how the troop withdrawal would be accomplished.

He also predicted that the US would be able to capture al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden by 2013.

'Still suffering'

Both of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, have pledged to make the withdrawal of troops from Iraq a major priority of their administrations.

Mr McCain has been a major backer of the war in Iraq, and was an early proponent last year's "surge" strategy, when an extra 30,000 US troops were sent in an attempt to restore order and allow space for political reconciliation.

In his speech, Mr McCain outlined his vision of what Iraq would look like in January 2013, after four years of a hypothetical McCain administration:

"America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom."

"The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension."

"Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced... The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role."

Mr McCain also used the speech to detail his domestic policy plans, including reforms to the tax system, reductions in federal spending and a "cap-and-trade" system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

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