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Friday, July 29, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraq moving toward consensus for U.S. contingent of trainers, not 10,000 combat troops

BAGHDAD — Iraq has ruled out the extension of a U.S. military force beyond 2011.


Officials said the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has relayed its rejection of a U.S. proposal to deploy 10,000 troops in Iraq in 2012. They said Al Maliki and his Cabinet were prepared to maintain a much smaller U.S. contingent of trainers to help the Iraqi military and security forces.

"Is there a security need for Iraq for trainers, for experts?" Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said. "The answer is yes. I think it is possible to reach a consensus on this."

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In a briefing on July 27, Zebari provided the clearest response to a U.S. offer to maintain its military beyond 2011. The Al Maliki government has failed to decide on Washington's proposal, and a deadline for a formal response set by President Jalal Talabani expired on July 23.

Officials said Zebari's statement reflected an emerging position by Baghdad that no more than 3,000 U.S. trainers would be allowed to remain in Iraq in 2012. They said the trainers would include private contractors and help the Iraqi military and security forces absorb the billions of dollars of U.S. weapons ordered by Baghdad.

"I believe that things are heading to an agreement on having trainers and experts not military forces with combat troops," Zebari said.

The U.S. military has maintained 46,000 troops in Iraq, most of them scheduled to be withdrawn over the next four months. Officials said Washington was ready to begin an accelerated pace of withdrawal by September.

"The Iraqi government alone cannot reach a decision on this issue," Zebari said. "It needs political and national consensus. It's an issue all political leaders should back."

Officials said Al Maliki planned to discuss the U.S. proposal with his Cabinet on July 30. The prime minister, who earlier spoke to U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, said any decision would then be relayed to parliament for its approval.

"The prime minister assured Mr. Biden that in the end it is up to the parliament to decide whether the country needs American forces to stay or not after the end of this year," the prime minister's office said in a statement.


THANK GOD!!!! As a spouse of an airman deployed to iraq this is the best news possible, and im sure others will agree. I am so proud of my husband and what he does for our country, but we are expecting our first child and him coming home is something i cant wait for!!!!

Maegan Sime      4:16 p.m. / Friday, July 29, 2011

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