All U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of next year under the terms of a bilateral status of forces agreement signed with Iraq in November 2008.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his latest report to the U.N. General Assembly noted that the withdrawal of U.S. forces could create a security gap in Iraq.
"While there has been gradual progress over the past several years in making the United Nations more self-reliant in Iraq, certain security and logistical arrangements still being provided by the United States will need to be replaced," he wrote.
Ban, meanwhile, described the nomination of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second term as a "breakthrough" in the democratic experiment under way in Iraq. Delays in forming a new government, however, were cause for some concern for U.N. member states.
"Progress in this regard will help put the country on the path towards democracy, national reconciliation and long-term stability," he added.
Maliki was nominated in early November, suggesting he had about a month to formally announce the new government. The religious calendar and a notoriously slow Iraqi government suggest nothing much will develop before early 2011, however.
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