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Australian prime minister criticizes Obama

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SYDNEY, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard criticized Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

Howard told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that Obama's proposal to pull out of Iraq in early 2008 "would just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq to hang on and hope for an Obama victory."

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Obama, who officially entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination with a speech in his home state of Illinois on Saturday, has introduced legislation that would withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.

The Labor Party foreign affairs spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that Howard's comments on a U.S. politician were inappropriate.

"That effectively demeans the alliance between Australia and the United States," Robert McClelland said. "It effectively suggests that it's an alliance between two political parties and not the people of both countries."

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