ABC News’s Bret Hovell reports: Sen. John McCain responded late Tuesday to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s call for a drawdown in foreign troops from Iraq as a prerequisite for a security agreement with the United States.
McCain said he was not concerned about the call for a "timetable" for withdrawal, a concept McCain has consistently criticized.
"I know for a fact that [troop pullout] will be dictated by the situation on the ground, as it always has been," McCain said Tuesday evening at a stop for dinner in Pittsburgh, Pa.
"Since we are succeeding, then I am convinced, as I have said before, we can withdraw and withdraw with honor, not according to a set timetable," he said. "And I’m confident that is what Prime Minister Maliki is talking about, since he has told me that for many meetings we’ve had."
Maliki said in a statement on Monday that the way to proceed in defining the next phase of American involvement in Iraq would involve setting a timetable for the end of combat troops in the country.
McCain has regularly contended that though the so-called "surge" of troops is succeeding -– and evidence seems to indicate that is correct -– the current level of peace is tenuous at best. He has said that withdrawing troops too soon could reverse the progress that has been made.
"He doesn’t want to give up these hard won victories in Basra, in Mosul, in Sadr city," McCain said on Tuesday of Maliki.