Mullen says negotiations with Iraq on U.S. troops ongoing

14:03, July 08, 2011      

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U.S. military confirmed on Thursday that the administration is negotiating with the Iraqi government on retaining some U.S. troops in that country beyond the end of this year, when all U.S. troops are scheduled to leave.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that negotiations with the Iraqi side involve both the number of U.S. troops that would stay, as well as the capabilities of the U.S. side, such as air power, air defense and intelligence.

"There are very clear capability gaps the Iraqis are going to have," Mullen said, and how to address the gaps is "at the heart of the discussions and negotiations."

Mullen described the negotiations as "hard," and said U.S. troops won't be there forever.

"There are needs that will continue for some time," he said. "We're not talking forever. (It would be) over the next two or three years."

There are some 46,000 U.S. servicemen in Iraq. U.S. officials have said the United States would be willing to station some troops in Iraq, if Iraq asks. News reports indicate the White House is offering to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq next year. The Iraqi government hasn't made a formal request yet.

Source: Xinhua
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