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Rice: Iraq withdrawal threatens US gains

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Sunday that President Obama's plan to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by year's end threatens to destabilize the entire region.

"It would help the regional balance to have a residual American presence there," Rice said on ABC'S "This Week with Christiane Amanpour." "We need to find a way to help the Iraqis sustain themselves through this period and to deal with their somewhat meddlesome neighbor in Iran."

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More than eight years after the Pentagon launched its war in Iraq, Obama last month announced that the U.S. will withdraw all of the 40,000 troops that remain in Iraq by the end of the year. The move came after the U.S. and Iraqi governments failed to reach an agreement on a plan to leave several thousand U.S. troops in the war-torn country to provide security and train Iraqi service members.

Rice said she's "rather reluctant to criticize negotiations that I didn't participate in," but nonetheless warned that Obama's withdrawal timetable risks forfeiting all the gains from the U.S. intervention. 

"What is at risk here is not just the sacrifice of the United States, which is considerable,"  Rice said, "but also a pillar of a new kind of democratic stability in the Middle East."

Rice is currently touring to promote her new book about her White House tenure, "No Higher Honor." 


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