U.S. Defense Secretary arrives in Baghdad

15:26, July 11, 2011      

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New U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit on Sunday to meet with Iraqi leaders, Iraqi official television reported.

Panetta is expected to meet with U.S. military commanders in Iraq and will hold talks with top Iraqi officials about whether some U.S. troops will remain in Iraq after the deadline of the end of 2011.

Baghdad and Washington are in debate whether the U.S. troops need to extend the presence of its troops in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline.

In mid 2010, U.S. troops in Iraq were reduced to below 50,000 soldiers. Washington said that the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq are conducting support and training missions.

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

Source: Xinhua
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