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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 21:18 GMT
Iraqi forces 'ready by mid-2007'
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
Mr Maliki said training of Iraqi forces will be stepped up
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has said Iraqi forces will be ready to assume security control of the country in June 2007.

"Iraqi forces will be... fully ready to receive this command," Mr Maliki said in an interview with US ABC TV, to be aired later on Thursday.

He was speaking hours after holding talks with US President George W Bush in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Mr Bush has said US troops will remain in Iraq "until the job is complete".

The president said after their meeting that it was important to speed up training for the Iraqi security forces.

Transfer of power

According to a transcript released by ABC in advance of the broadcast, Mr Maliki outlined a plan to transfer security control to the Iraqi army.

"At the beginning of next year we will increase the training of our forces... when they reach an acceptable level, we can talk about transferring power from multinational forces to Iraqi forces.

"I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready," he said.

Asked what Mr Bush said the US would do to help the Iraqi government better respond to the bloodshed, Mr Maliki said the president had pointed to the need for more troops.

"He meant we will need more forces on the ground to, to fight terrorism and violence ... That is why our discussion focused on training and empowering Iraqi forces."

'No militias'

Mr Maliki said he and Bush had "agreed to keep the same forces on the ground but to train more Iraqi forces."

The prime minister also said he rejected the existence of militias.

"I reject any militia within the state. We will not negotiate with any militia," he said.

"Our policy is clear, it is to eradicate all militias from the country or to have them included in the political process. Or we will face them even if we have to by force."

Earlier, Mr Bush had said US troops would remain in Iraq as long as Mr Maliki's government wanted them there.

The president also praised Mr Maliki as the "right guy for Iraq" and said it was important to speed up training for the Iraqi security forces which were "evolving from ground zero".


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Iraqi prime minister's interview on US television



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