PARIS - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Thursday that US troops should stay for up to three more years in Iraq to enable local authorities to build up their own security forces.
At the start of a week-long visit to France, Talabani said his country was not in a civil war and accused the media of focussing only on negative stories.
However, he said that "international terrorists" were still concentrating all their efforts in Iraq which meant the country needed outside help to defeat them.
“We need time. Not 20 years, but time. I personally can say that two to three years will be enough to build up our forces and say to our American friends 'Bye bye with thanks'," Talabani told a conference.
Talabani is due to meet French President Jacques Chirac later on Thursday. The Iraqi president said he wanted France to be actively involved in the rebuilding of the country and help train Iraqi forces.
Public pressure is building in both the United States and Britain to bring back troops from Iraq.
US President George W. Bush's Republicans face possible loss of control of Congress in November 7 elections, with dismay over his Iraq policy a critical factor in voter intentions.