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Carney Says U.S. Discussing Need for Troops Remaining in Iraq

The U.S. is discussing with Iraq whether some U.S. troops will remain in the country to assist with security even though no requests for assistance have been made, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

“We are on schedule to withdraw the remaining U.S. forces that are in Iraq by the end of the year,” Carney told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One today. “We are also in negotiations, discussions with the Iraqis about what their security needs are and will be in the future.”

Carney said no decisions have been made about what U.S. troops might remain in the country to assist with security. The Wall Street Journal reported today that U.S.-Iraqi discussions about keeping 10,000 American troops in Iraq beyond the scheduled withdrawal date face difficulties amid concern their presence may fan unrest.

Iraq is concerned that allowing the U.S. to stay in the country longer may spark sectarian violence and protests, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified U.S. officials.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iraq must decide whether it will request troops within weeks, Reuters reported.

“We would entertain any request from the Iraqi government for cooperation or assistance,” Carney said. “We’re obviously in discussions with Iraq about its future writ large.”

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