Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Iraq, U.S. to discuss extended stay for troops

Baghdad's decision comes on the same day Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, visits Iraq and warns that the U.S. needs to know whether a training mission will proceed.

The Iraqi government agreed late Tuesday to start negotiations with U.S. officials on whether to authorize theU.S. military to remain in Iraq on a mission training Iraq's security forces after 2011.

The announcement came the same day that Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the country and warned that Washington needed a clear signal from Iraq about whether it would ask the American military stay on.

Senior Pentagon officials have been imploring Iraq's government for months to make a decision on a continued U.S. military presence, and last month, on a visit to Baghdad, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta expressed that frustration by saying, "Damn it, make a decision," referring to the Iraqis.

As a candidate, President Obama promised to end the Iraq war, so the White House has been reluctant to call openly for U.S. troops to remain.

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