Iraq leaders approve talks over US troops

August 3, 2011 03:17


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BAGHDAD - Iraq's political leaders agreed on Tuesday to allow Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to negotiate with the United States over whether US troops should stay to train Iraqi forces past a year-end deadline for American soldiers to leave.

The agreement edges Iraq a step closer to deciding if some US soldiers will remain, but a final deal is distant as tough questions remain on whether trainers are civilian contractors or active U.S troops and over their legal immunity in Iraq.

More than eight years after the US-led invasion that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein, the remaining 46,000 US troops in Iraq are scheduled to leave at year-end when a bilateral security agreement finishes.

Leaders from Iraq's major parties met on Tuesday to discuss US troops just hours after the top US military officer visiting Baghdad said any accord for a US presence would require lawmakers to give Americans soldiers legal immunity.

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