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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Most people 'want Iraq pull-out'
US troops during a foot patrol south of Baghdad (09/07)
Many people believe the US will stay in Iraq permanently
Most people across the world believe US-led forces should withdraw from Iraq within a year, a BBC poll suggests.

Some 39% of people in 22 countries said troops should leave now, and 28% backed a gradual pull-out. Just 23% wanted them to stay until Iraq was safe.

In the US, one-in-four supported an immediate withdrawal, while 32% wanted Iraq's security issues to be resolved before bringing the troops home.

The BBC World Service commissioned the survey of 23,193 people.

Troop pullout graph

In the survey, people were asked whether coalition troops should pull out of Iraq immediately, commit to a gradual withdrawal over a year, or leave when the security situation improves.

In 19 countries, the majority of those questioned believed troops should be withdrawn either immediately or within a year.

Just three countries - Kenya, the Philippines and India - did not have an overall majority favouring withdrawal within a year.

Large numbers of people questioned in India (36%) declined to comment or said they "didn't know".

Muslim countries including Indonesia (65%), Turkey (64%) and Egypt (58%) were among those most eager for troops to be withdrawn immediately.

But an immediate pull-out was much less popular in Australia (22%), the US (24%) and UK (27%) - the countries with most troops deployed in Iraq.

Troop cuts

The top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is considering withdrawing about 4,000 troops starting in January, media reports say.

POLL FINDINGS IN FULL

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The pull-out of one brigade would only take place if it did not threaten "recent gains" made by US forces following the troop surge that was completed in June, the New York Times reports, quoting senior US government and military officials.

Officials say Gen Petraeus will discuss possible further troop cuts to be made in 2008, when he presents his assessment of US military strategy in Iraq to Congress next week.

There are a record 168,000 US troops in Iraq, including 30,000 additional soldiers deployed as part of the "surge".

The US completed the introduction of 30,000 more troops in Iraq in mid-June.

'Permanent presence'

An Iraqi minister said the most vital need is help from Iraq's neighbours.

"Getting out of Iraq now probably the situation will be worsened; but, if our neighbouring countries ceased involving themselves in Iraq, probably the situation will be improved definitely," Education Minister Abid Dhyab al-Ajili told the BBC.

"So it depends on our neighbouring countries. Definitely I feel, if the American troops pulled out of Iraq, I think the situation will be improved in the long term."

In recent days, leaders from the US, Australia and the UK have said troops must stay in Iraq until the country is safe.

All three countries say they have a commitment to the Iraqi people to remain there until local forces are able to ensure their security.

But Doug Miller of Globescan, which carried out the research, said the results of the survey showed "the weight of global public opinion" was against them.

The respondents were also asked whether they believed the US would leave a permanent military presence in Iraq.

Half of those questioned believed the US would have bases in Iraq permanently, while 36% assumed all troops would withdraw once Iraq was stabilised.

The findings suggest support for keeping foreign troops in Iraq until security has improved has fallen significantly since an earlier World Service poll released in February 2006.

The BBC's world affairs correspondent, Nick Childs, says it is not surprising, more than four years on from a controversial invasion, that international public opinion on the foreign troop presence should now be so negative.

He added that the Bush administration has been battling perceptions that its aim has been to establish a permanent military presence in Iraq as part of a regional strategy - something it has denied.

Troop pullout graph




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Breakdown of poll results



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