PM Erdogan, Obama discuss US plans to pull troops out of Iraq
In a phone conversation last Friday, US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly discussed, among other things, US plans to withdraw all of its combat troops from Iraq by summer's end. After taking office early last year, Obama announced a new Iraq strategy and set a timetable for US troop withdrawal. The US plans to pull all of its 90,000 combat troops – out of a total of 140,000 currently in the country – out of Iraq by the end of this month. The remaining 50,000 US troops are planned to be mostly active in anti-terror operations as well as in training the Iraqi army. Obama recently announced that the withdrawal plans remain on schedule and that there would be no timetable change. The Obama administration plans to withdraw all US troops from Iraq by the end of next year, handing over duties to diplomats who will engage in civilian efforts to help Iraqi reconstruction efforts. Earlier Ankara expressed readiness to discuss US requests as part of its withdrawal plan. Observers say Turkey is poised to play a key role in ensuring peace and stability in Iraq following the US withdrawal. Turkey is urging Iraqi leaders to immediately form a national consensus government representing all sectors of Iraqi society, and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has been busy working towards that end.