Iraqis Reviewing U.S. Troop Presence

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BAGHDAD, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Iraqi leaders are expected to reach a deal about the presence of the remaining U.S. troops in the country, a member of the prime minister’s party said.

Remaining U.S. troops are expected to leave Iraq by Dec. 31 under the terms of a bilateral status of forces agreement signed in 2008.

Khalid al-Assady, a lawmaker in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law party said officials, during Tuesday talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, are expected to review the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, the Voices of Iraq news agency reports.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a recent visit to Iraq that Baghdad needed to act quickly on any troop decision.

“The point is we’re at a deadline and we need an answer,” he said in a statement.

Iraqi lawmakers are notoriously slow to act. Maliki has yet to form a complete Cabinet of new ministers more than a year after parliamentary elections in 2010.

Stuart Bowen, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, warned in a July report to Congress that Iraq was a very dangerous place more than eight years after the initial U.S.-led invasion.

“It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago,” he wrote.

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