Iraqi views mixed on US presidential contest

BAGHDAD (AP) -- One Iraqi man says he hopes Barack Obama wins the U.S. presidency because Obama "wants to withdraw the troops." An Iraqi Christian woman agrees and says that's why she's rooting for John McCain.

Iraqis may have nearly as big a stake in today's presidential contest as Americans do. Many are eager for an end to the U.S. military presence. Yet, many Iraqis express fear their security forces aren't ready to protect the country.

Those views are as different as the candidates' positions on Iraq. Obama has called for total pullout of combat troops within 16 months. McCain opposes setting such a timetable, vowing to end the war in victory.

Iraqi officials have avoided statements about the campaign. Some officials say the government was slow to catch on to Obama's appeal, perhaps because McCain was better known for his frequent visits to Iraq. Obama first visited Iraq last summer.

Today, a government newspaper speculates that U.S. policy toward Iraq is unlikely to change greatly no matter who wins, since America has a vital interest in a stable Iraq. That view is widely held among ordinary Iraqis too.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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