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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 19:03 GMT
UN extends mandate of Iraq troops
US soldiers in patrol in Samarra
Iraq's president wants coalition forces to stay for now
The United Nations has extended the mandate of the US-led multinational forces in Iraq for another year.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate to the end of 2006.

The US welcomed the vote as a sign of international commitment to the political transition in Iraq.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Iraqi armed forces should be ready gradually to begin taking over from coalition forces by the end of 2006.

The existing UN mandate had been due to expire at the end of this year, after parliamentary elections planned for 15 December.

'Need more time'

The vote followed a letter written to the Security Council by Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari in which he requested the extension.

"The Iraqi national security forces which are increasing in size, capability and experience day after day need more time to complete their training, ranks and equipment in order to take over the primary responsibility of providing adequate security for Iraqis," he wrote.

US ambassador to the UN John Bolton praised the decision, saying: "The unanimous adoption of this resolution is a vivid demonstration of broad international support for a federal, democratic, pluralistic and unified Iraq."

In a concession to France and Russia, the US agreed that the mandate should be reviewed in June next year.

On Monday, the US defence department announced a troop rotation that would mean the deployment of 92,000 troops in Iraq from mid-2006 to mid-2008.

At present there are about 160,000 US personnel in Iraq.

The Pentagon said the announcement did not mean the US planned to cut the numbers of troops next year, but that further deployment decisions might be announced later.

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