US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks during a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, August 4. Iraq has agreed to keep American troops in Iraq beyond a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, Panetta said. © Jim Watson - AFP/File
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
AFP
Last updated: August 20, 2011

Panetta: Iraq agrees to extend US military role

Iraq has agreed to keep American troops in Iraq beyond a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday.

"My view is that they finally did say, ‘Yes,'" Panetta said in an interview with Stars and Stripes and the Military Times.

Iraqi political leaders announced on August 3 that they would open talks with the United States over a possible training mission after 2011 but have yet to say definitively if some American troops would remain.

All of the 46,000 US troops still in Iraq must pull out by the end of the year under the terms of a 2008 security agreement.

But both US and Iraqi military officers acknowledge Iraq's forces need outside assistance to defend the country's air space, ports and borders.

While negotiations continue on the outlines of a training mission, the planned withdrawal of US combat troops by the end of 2011 will proceed, Panetta said.

"We will fulfill the commitment that we are going to take all of the combat forces out of Iraq," Panetta said.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Stay Connected
twitter icon Twitter 13,558 linkedin icon LinkedIn 463
facebook icon Facebook 87,173 google+ icon Google+ 272