Troops must leave Iraq soon but not before June 30, says Cardinal Martino

.- The Vatican’s former envoy to the United Nations said yesterday that the U.S.-led coalition forces should pull out of Iraq as soon as possible but not before the planned June 30 hand-over of sovereignty to the Iraqis, reported AFP.

"The Holy See, the Pope and all those who work with the Pope have said it would be crazy to leave Iraq at this moment, before June 30,” and before the United Nations forces arrive, said Renato Cardinal Martino in an interview with the Portuguese newspaper Publico.

Such a move “would be leaving Iraq in chaos," said the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Justice and Peace.

Cardinal Martino said the Iraqi people must decide their future for themselves. “That is why the earlier this happens, the better," he said.

The cardinal was in Fatima, Portugal, yesterday for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, where he presided over the annual pilgrimage to the shrine.

When asked to comment on the photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, Cardinal Martino told Publico: "Torture speaks for itself."

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