Australian PM says Iraq must make faster progress

Australia tells Iraqi government it must make faster progress₪ Australian officials on Saturday warned the Iraqi government that it must work harder to stabilize the country, hinting that Australia would consider withdrawing its troops if faster progress is not made. In a letter to his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister John Howard urged the Iraqi government to speed the sharing of oil wealth among all sections of the Iraqi community, including the minority Sunni population, according to a report in The Australian newspaper Saturday. Howard reportedly warned al-Maliki that if the Iraqis fail to make speedy progress, the public support for Australia's military deployment to Iraq may not be sustainable. In the letter, which was sent last week, Howard told the Iraqi leader that "prompt, concrete measures are needed not only to secure Iraq's future, but also to ensure regional stability and continued constructive international engagement."