The President Barack Obama Administration is preparing to commence talks with Iraq on ironing out the details of a long-term defense relationship that may include more U.S. training help, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s chief policy aide.
The Associated Press reported that Michele Flournoy, who is leaving her Pentagon post on Feb. 3, told a small group of reporters that the Administration is open to Iraqi suggestions concerning the scope and depth of the defense ties between the two countries.
“One of the things we’re looking forward to doing is sitting down with the Iraqis in the coming month or two to start thinking about how they want to work with” the U.S. military to develop a program of exercises, training and other forms of security cooperation, Flournoy told reporters.
Both sides had considered keeping several thousand American troops in Iraq to help with training, but they failed to reach an agreement prior to the expiration of a 2008 deal that required all U.S. forces to leave, according to the AP.
The New York Times reported that the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance drones in Iraq to protect the United States Embassy and consulates in the Arab nation, but Iraqi officials have expressed outrage over these actions.