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Iraqis want some US troops to stay beyond 2011 deadline: Panetta

August 20, 2011 - Washington

US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said that a "progress" has been made between Iraq and America on whether U.S. troops should remain in that country beyond the end of the year.

On being asked about Obama administration's efforts to persuade Iraqi leaders to decide whether they want any U.S. troops to stay after December 31, Panetta said: "My view is that they finally did say yes."

"It was unanimous consent among the key leaders of the country to go ahead and request that we negotiate on some kind of training, what a training presence would look like," The Washington Post quoted him, as saying.

During his visit to Iraq last month, Panetta had reportedly asked Iraqi leaders to decide whether they wanted to re-negotiate an agreement that the Bush administration reached had made with the Baghdad government to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of 2011.

Although the Iraqi government has opened the door to negotiations, it is still uncertain whether or not a deal can be reached.

The issue is politically sensitive in Iraq, where many people would like the Americans to leave, but leaders acknowledge that they could use continued U.S. help to train their military and ensure stability.


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