BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's prime minister says his security forces are ready to protect the country once the American military withdraws by the end of this year.
Nouri al-Maliki told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday that he has "no concerns whatsoever" about security after all American troops withdraw by the end of this year.
The prime minister also has dismissed claims that Iraq would fall under neighboring Iran's sphere of influence.
He vows that Iraq will not become a follower of any country, including Iran, and will follow its own policies.
Some U.S. officials have suggested that Iranian influence in Iraq would inevitably grow once American troops depart.
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