Iraqi PM Al-Maliki: US troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011
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  • Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki stated that an agreement requiring US troops to leave by the end of 2011 will stand as Iraqi forces are capable of taking care of the country’s security. He commented on this issue for the first time on since being tasked with forming a new government after nearly nine months of political deadlock. Under an agreement between Iraq and the US, all American troops are to leave the country by the end of 2011. The US currently has a little less than 50,000 troops in Iraq, down from a one-time high of 170,000. American officials have said they will abide by the agreement although they would consider any request by the new Iraqi government to stay longer. Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated that the US government is open to discussing changes to the agreement. However, he had noted that the ‘initiative clearly needs to come from the Iraqis.’1