But now the New York Times has obtained the interview tapes, and according to their translation, that’s about what Maliki said:
[…] The interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki’s office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki’s interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama’s position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.
The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki’s comments by The Times: ‘Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq.’
He continued: ‘Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.’
You might recall this is not the first time the issue of U.S. troop presence has been hit with “translation problems”.