China gets picky with foreig

December 5, 2006 6:33pm CST
BAGHDAD, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S.-led coalition forces handed over command of Iraqi forces to the government on Thursday in Baghdad, which is seen by U.S. officials as a crucial step toward the withdrawal of coalition troops in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed an agreement with U.S. commander in Iraq General George Casey in a ceremony to take command of Iraqi naval and air troops and the 8th Iraqi Army Division. Nine other Iraqi army divisions will be transferred in the coming months in a timetable to be set by the prime minister, U.S. officials said. In the ceremony, Casey hailed the agreement as "a milestone." "From today forward, the Iraqi military responsibilities will be increasingly conceived and led by Iraqis," the U.S. general said. Maliki has said that he expects Iraqi forces to take over security in most of the country"s provinces by the end of the year. However, Iraqi security forces still heavily depend on U.S. troops for logistical support to fight against insurgents and stem sectarian violence. Analysts said that it was unclear how rapidly the Iraqi troops would be ready to provide security independently
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