00:25 GMT +3 hours25 November 2014
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Lavrov says time's not right for pullout of Iraq

Russia
(updated 18:25 28.10.2014)
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There can be no question of foreign troops being withdrawn from Iraq at present, Russia's foreign minister said on Tuesday.
MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) - There can be no question of foreign troops being withdrawn from Iraq at present, Russia's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"Iraq's law enforcement structures are not in a position to assume complete responsibility for ensuring security in the country and to effectively counter terrorist groups," Sergei Lavrov told an international conference on Iraq in Kuwait City.

He said that although some successes had been achieved in the security sphere, the situation remained volatile.

"Positive changes are yet to be irreversible. Consider the recent fighting in Basra and Baghdad, the echo of which is still resounding [throughout the country], and the latest bomb attacks in the country's central provinces, which have claimed dozens of lives," he said.

The ministerial conference on Iraq opened on Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urging his neighbors to assist in stabilizing the war-torn country.

He suggested that neighboring countries could help stabilize Iraq by clearing its outstanding debts, adding that his country "has passed the crisis" and is much better off than it was a year ago.

The conference was also attended by Egypt, Gulf Cooperation Council members, G-8 countries, five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Around 4,000 American soldiers, and up to 90,000 Iraqi civilians (according to the Iraq Body Count project) have been killed in Iraq since the invasion by U.S.-led forces in 2003.