Maliki: Yes, we still want all U.S. troops out by the end of 2011

A majority of Iraqis—and some Iraqi and U.S. officials—have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. “The last American soldier will leave Iraq” as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad’s protected Green Zone. “This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed.”

He also said that even as Iraq bids farewell to U.S. troops, he wouldn’t allow his nation to be pulled into alignment with Iran, despite voices supporting such an alliance within his government…

Mr. Maliki suggested his government had co-opted militias like the one associated with Mr. Sadr. “The militias are now part of the government and have entered the political process,” said Mr. Maliki. The Sadr contingent, he added, “is moving in a satisfactory direction of taking part in the government, renouncing violence and abandoning military activity, and that’s why we welcome it.”