Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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Top US officer in Iraq to push for troop decision

  • Wednesday, August 3, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • Iraq: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki voiced hope that a deal on the future of US troop presence in Iraq could be reached Tuesday as the top American military officer arrived to push for a quick decision.

    The visit by Admiral Mike Mullen, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comes with months to go before a year-end deadline for the withdrawal of the 47,000-odd American soldiers currently stationed in Iraq.

    "The point is we're at a deadline, and we need an answer," Mullen told accompanying journalists, according to the Pentagon.

    Mullen arrived Monday at a US base on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul before heading to Baghdad.

    US officials have pressed their Iraqi counterparts to decide quickly whether they want US troops to remain in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline, including during a visit in July by Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

    Proposals for a training mission are gaining traction among Iraqi leaders, although nothing yet has been agreed.

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