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US says quick Iraq pullout 'very harmful'

() - August 1, 2007 - 12:00pm

MANILA (AFP) - US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on Wednesday said a quick withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq would be "very harmful."

Speaking on the sidelines of an Asian security meeting in Manila, he was asked about this week's call by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a troop pullout to help Iraq's return to "normalcy."

"I think our military presence plays a very supportive and a stabilising role in Iraq," Negroponte told GMA7 television.

"And I think a sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq could have very, very harmful circumstances," he said.

Foreign ministers from the 10-country bloc -- including close US ally the Philippines -- called in their statement for a "phased and calibrated withdrawal."

ASIAN ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN NEGROPONTE HARMFUL IRAQ MANILA NEGROPONTE UNITED STATES WITHDRAWAL
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