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From Associated Press
February 01, 2008 8:03 PM EST
WASHINGTON - President Bush's top diplomat in Iraq said Friday that the U.S. plans to keep combat troops there into 2009, seen as the tipping point for establishing the nation's long-term security, and he offered no deadline for a full withdrawal.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker told The Associated Press that he can't make any promises if, as the Democratic candidates have signaled, the next president pulls forces out faster or in greater numbers.
Crocker said America remains "a center of gravity" in Iraq almost five years after invasion, and that violence and political development both hinge to a considerable degree on whether U.S. forces remain there.