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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Allawi Focuses on Problems at Hand

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Tuesday it was "futile" to set a timetable now for the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Iraq and that the country must first build up its security forces to confront the insurgents.

"Others spoke about the immediate withdrawal or setting a timetable for the withdrawal of multinational forces," Allawi told reporters. "I will not deal with the security matter under political pretexts and exaggerations that do not serve Iraq and its people."

Allawi, who is running for the National Assembly in Sunday's national elections, promised to "build a strong Iraqi security force" that will be able to take responsibility for protecting the people.

"I will not set final dates" for the withdrawal of international forces "because setting final dates will be futile and dangerous," Allawi said.

There has been speculation that the new Iraqi government to be chosen after the weekend elections might ask the Americans to begin negotiations for their departure from the country -- as demanded by Sunni Arab insurgents, as well as members of the Sunni clergy.

However, none of the major political figures contesting the election has publicly called for such a step. That includes the ticket supported by the Shiite clergy who are expected to fare best among the 111 candidate lists.

Allawi said the weekend elections would be the first step toward building an Iraq capable of functioning without the presence of foreign troops.

 Gunmen assassinated a senior judge in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, pressing a bloody campaign to sabotage Iraq's landmark elections just five days before voters go to the polls, according to a Reuters report.

Judge Qais Hashim Shameri and his son were killed in an ambush as they left home during morning rush hour, police sources said. The attack again showed the ability of insurgents to strike at the heart of Iraq's U.S.-backed interim government.

Guerrillas killed the provincial governor and deputy police chief of Baghdad earlier this month and have vowed to continue targeting officials and members of security forces they brand as collaborators with foreign occupiers.