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Maliki talks security with Secretary Gates

July 24, 2009 at 12:04 PM

WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed with the U.S. defense secretary ways to ensure national security under the terms of a bilateral military pact.

U.S. combat forces pulled out of Iraqi cites to their military bases in June. Violence in Iraq has soared in the period surrounding the drawdown, with gunmen killing two women and injuring four others in attacks in the southern city of Kut in the latest outbreak.

Maliki, on a visit to the United States, met with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to discuss the security arrangement following the U.S. troop drawdown.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the conversation focused "largely on our security partnership, on ways that we can continue to help the Iraqi security forces grow in size and capability, so that they are able to fully exert their sovereignty and protect the people from external and internal threats."

Morrell said the defense secretary was "working on creative ways" to equip and aid the Iraqi security forces. Various reports have surfaced that there is some moderate confusion on the ground related to U.S. military conduct in Iraq following the drawdown.

U.S. President Barack Obama during his meeting with Maliki on Wednesday said U.S. troops would honor their commitments to Iraq, which include a full withdrawal in 2011.

Maliki, while maintaining his security forces are up for the job said, however, the security agreement was up for review should the Iraqi military require further training and support.

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