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Clinton outlines Iraq withdrawal plan

US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined her plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.

To mark the 5th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq on March 20, the New York senator vowed in a speech to an audience at the George Washington University that she would exercise the leadership needed to end the war in Iraq.

According to Clinton's multi-step plan to cease the Iraq war, she would start troop withdrawal within 60 days of taking office and urge the United Nations to broker a political agreements among Iraqi sectarians and help resettle refugees.

She also suggested that armed private military contractors be removed from Iraq and end black market sales of oil that feed the insurgency.

By defending her withdrawal plan not meaning “retreating from fighting terrorism in Iraq,” Clinton said she would leave small and elite strike forces to engage in targeted operations against al-Qaida in Iraq.

“President Bush is determined to continue his failed policy in Iraq until he leaves office,” she said. “Senator John McCain will gladly accept the torch and stay the course, keeping troops in Iraq for up to 100 years if necessary.”

As the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, McCain is currently in Iraq on a congressional trip, defending his policy by telling CNN that Clinton “obviously does not understand nor appreciate the progress that has been made on the ground.”

“Withdrawal? What that means is that al-Qaida wins,” the Arizona Senator said.

Clinton was also trying to attack Bush's war policy by linking ballooning spending with the US trailing economy that has become most Americans' top concern, saying the war was estimated to cost Americans $1 trillion and continue to strain the country's military and economic strength, taking American soldiers' lives and risk the national security.

“Our economic security is at stake,” she said, adding the war fund could be used to provide health care to 47 million uninsured Americans, solve the mushrooming US housing crisis and make college affordable.

The former First Lady, who is vying to be the US first female president, is caught in a close tie with her rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

The two candidates have recently intensified their criticism against Bush's administration and each other on the issues of economy and Iraq war when campaigning for the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, which is considered to play a key role in deciding the party's presidential nominee. (Xinhua)