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Iraqi PM to sign agreement for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq

08-03-2011 09:17 BJT

BAGHDAD, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi political leaders agreed to give green light to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to hold talks with the United States about staying some of its troops in Iraq beyond the end of 2011 deadline as trainers to the Iraqi security forces, an Iraqi official said on Wednesday.

"The Iraqi political leaders agreed in their meeting tonight ( Tuesday night) to authorize the Iraqi government to start talk with the American side over staying of some troops only for the purpose of training the Iraqi security forces," Deputy Prime Minister Roj Noori Shawis read a televised statement after the more than four-hour meeting that ended after midnight in the residence of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The latest decision by the leaders of the political blocs would let small force of U.S. troops to stay in Iraq beyond the end of 2011 deadline only for training Iraqi forces under the Strategic Framework Agreement, signed earlier between Baghdad and Washington with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) late in 2008.

The decision came after the Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staffs, who paid a visit to Baghdad, met late on Monday with Maliki and Talabani and urged them to decide as soon as possible if they want U.S. troops to stay in the country after the end of the year deadline.

During his meeting with Mullen, Maliki confirmed his government stance that it is for the leaders of the political blocs and then to the parliament to take the final decision for the U.S. troops' presence in Iraq, according to a statement by Maliki's office.

U.S. military forces are to pull out completely from Iraq by the end of 2011, according to security pact, named Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed late in 2008 between Baghdad and Washington.

Earlier, Maliki frequently said that SOFA cannot be renewed as stated in the agreement, but it is expected that there could be another sort of agreement between the two sides to decide the staying of small U.S. force after the end of 2011 deadline, mainly for training Iraqi troops.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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