Joint US-Iraqi task force to set terms for US troop exit - Yahoo! News: "A joint US-Iraqi committee is to set the conditions under which US troops will hand over security in the war-torn country to Iraqi forces, paving the way for a US exit, the US embassy said.
" 'The joint task force will establish criteria and conditions that will help determine when Iraqi security forces ... will be capable of assuming full responsibility to secure
Iraq,' ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said in a statement.
" 'This task force will establish no timeline; but, instead, identify conditions sanctioned by the leadership of the Iraqi government and the multi-national coalition,' Khalilzad said following a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.
'As these conditions are met, transfers of security responsibility will be implemented progressively and noticeably to the Iraqi people,' he added.
"US President George Bush has refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of the 138,000 US forces from Iraq, but has said that US forces would stand down as Iraqi forces gradually take over.
"The joint task force will be headed by Jaafari's national security advisor Muaffak Rubaie, and will including representatives from coalition forces, along with those from the Iraqi interior and defence ministries.
" 'The prime minister has directed that the task force meet within the next week and report back to him with their plan in 60 days,'"
The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq appears to loom before us. The Iraqi Prime Minister's interest in moving this along may have something to do with his recent, cordial visit to Iran.