White House: U.S. would ‘consider’ staying in Iraq past 2011
The White House said Monday it would “consider” any Iraqi request for a US troop presence past 2011 as the war-torn country mourned the bloodiest violence in more than a year.
Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Washington’s “overall” posture “in terms of drawing down” was unchanged after the countrywide attacks, but that if Iraqi leaders “make some kind of request, we?ll certainly consider it.”
His comments came after attacks in 17 cities across Iraq killed 67 people on Monday, including 40 in twin blasts blamed on Al-Qaeda in the southern city of Kut, in the country’s bloodiest day in more than a year.
The surge of violence raised questions over the competence of Iraq’s forces after its leaders agreed to open talks with the United States over a military training mission to last beyond a projected year-end American withdrawal.
The attacks, which also wounded more than 300 people, were quickly condemned by Iraqi leaders, with parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi blaming security leaders for unspecified “violations.”
In the worst attack, an 8:00 am (0500 GMT) roadside bomb in the center of Kut, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, was followed minutes later by a nearby car bomb, medical and security officials said.
Carney spoke as US President Barack Obama traveled here to launch a three-day bus tour through states key to his 2012 reelection bid, looking to reassure US voters worried and angry about the sour US economy.