President Talabani backs 'Iran-Syria plan' to stabilize IrWed Oct 18, 2006 19:53
BAGHDAD (BBC) -- Violence in Iraq could end "within months" if Iran and Syria joined efforts to stabilize the country, says Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
He told the BBC the move would "be the beginning of the end of terrorism".
The idea for the U.S. to open talks with Iran and Syria over Iraq is said to be under consideration by a panel of experts examining U.S. policy on Iraq.
The panel, led by a former U.S. secretary of state, is also said to think that "staying the course" is untenable.
However, Mr. Talabani said was not worried by reports that James Baker's panel may recommend an early - or phased - withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq.
"I'm sure that no-one will decide to pull out quickly in Iraq," he told the BBC's Jim Muir.
Mr. Baker's commission, which is due to report in the next few months, is reportedly considering recommending significant changes.
The task force, which was asked by the U.S. Congress to examine the effectiveness of American policy in Iraq, has reportedly been looking at the two options - a possible phased withdrawal of troops and involvement of Iran and Syria.
Mr. Baker, who was secretary of state under President George Bush, the current president's father, has so far stressed that the panel has not come to a definitive conclusion.
But he has indicated the direction of the panel's thinking in recent television interviews.
"Our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run,'" he told ABC News recently.
In a separate development British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that British forces will not "walk away" from Iraq or Afghanistan until their job there is done.
Referring to Mr. Baker's report, Mr. Blair said he would be "absolutely astonished" if it set out plans to "get out of Iraq come what may".
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