The United States and Iraq have not yet agreed to a post-2011 American military training mission, an aide to the Iraqi premier said Friday, after the US defence chief said Baghdad had given the okay.
"We have not yet agreed on the issue of keeping training forces," Ali Mussawi, media advisor to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told AFP.
"The negotiations are ongoing, and these negotiations have not been finalised."
Mussawi's comments came after US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Iraq had agreed to keep American troops here beyond the end of 2011.
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"My view is that they finally did say, ‘Yes,'" Panetta said in an interview with Stars and Stripes and the Military Times published on Friday.
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.
If no new deal is reached, 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.
US and Iraqi military officials assess Iraq's security forces capable of maintaining internal security, but say the country is lacking in terms of capacity to defend its borders, airspace and territorial waters.
While violence in Iraq has dropped markedly from its peak in 2006 and 2007, insurgents are still capable of unleashing bloodshed. Attacks in 18 cities on August 15 left 74 people dead and more than 300 wounded.
A total of 259 Iraqis were killed in July, the second-highest figure for 2011.