Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has expressed confidence in hisarmed forces to maintain security ahead of an anticipated announcement byU.S. President Barack Obama that Washington would complete its military pullout from Iraq by August 2010."We have faith in our armed forces and our security services, to protect thecountry and consolidate security and stability," he said during talks withvisiting Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah. "We have noworries for Iraq if American troops pull out," he observed.According to American media reports, Mr. Obama is expected to announce his19-month pull out plan during a visit on Friday to a military establishmentin North Carolina.The Washington Post and New York Times reported that Mr. Obama was expectedto announce that U.S. operations would end in August 2010.During his election campaign, Mr. Obama had said that he planned to withdrawU.S. forces within a 16-month timetable.However, Mr. Obama's plan might not envisage a complete U.S. troopwithdrawal from Iraq. The U.S. administration could maintain residual forcescomprising tens of thousands of troops.During a meeting with congressional leaders on Thursday, Mr. Obamareportedly said he planned to retain 35,000 to 50,000 support troops inIraq. It is estimated that around 1,42,000 U.S. troops are deployed in Iraq.Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that Washington signed with theIraqi government, the U.S. agreed to pull out forces by the end of 2011.