“All parties have discussed the matter, and we have all agreed that each one will give its final response within two weeks,” Talabani said after a meeting with political blocs at the Presidential Palace this past Saturday.
Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurds said they do not want to see American troops depart, while radical anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr has threatened to reactivate his Mahdi Army militia if they stay. The other parties attending the meeting did not announce any stance on the issue.
About 46,000 US troops remain in Iraq, but the entire force is due to leave by December 31 under a security agreement with Baghdad.
Top US officials have said that they would consider keeping some troops there after the deadline if requested by Iraqi authorities.
On Thursday, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, confirmed that the United States and Iraq are negotiating a possible new security deal that would keep US Forces in the country beyond December 31.
“The negotiations are ongoing and it’s hard,” Mullen told reporters. He said the discussions were addressing both the size of a possible US military mission as well as the capabilities that Iraqi Forces lacked.
“There are very clear capability gaps the Iraqis are going to have,” said Mullen, citing air power, air defense and intelligence analysis. Both the Iraqi Security Forces and our Forces recognize those gaps are there,” Mullen added.
Source: Saudi Gazette