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US Officials Meet Iraqi PM Over Abuse Allegations


U.S. officials have assured Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that he will be kept fully informed about investigations into reports that U.S. Marines killed unarmed civilians.

White House Spokesman Tony Snow says U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Multinational Force Commander General George Casey met with Prime Minister Maliki to discuss investigations under way into allegations that U.S. Marines last year killed as many as 24 unarmed civilians in the town of Haditha.

Senior officials in Iraq's new government say they want American commanders to turn over information on the Haditha incident, so Iraq can conduct its own inquiry.

Snow says Mr. Maliki will be fully informed of the results, once the investigation is complete.

"I am sure that the prime minister is every bit as troubled by the allegations as the President of the United States is. And he got the full assurances from General Casey that he will be given all the evidence and all the materials available, so he will know what is going on," he said.

Snow says there are currently three investigations into possible U.S. misconduct in Iraq, including last November's incident in Haditha, the death of an unarmed man in Hamandiya, west of Baghdad in April and the killing of 11 civilians in Ishaqi north of the capital in March.

President Bush says, if there is evidence of wrong-doing on the part of U.S. troops, those responsible will be held to account. While the president says he is troubled by the allegations, Snow says the commander-in-chief will not comment more specifically, so as to preserve the independence of the judicial process.

"You are not going to be able to get specific reaction to specific charges for the simple reason that it could, in fact, get in the way of any necessary prosecution, should it become necessary. And, we are not going to get ourselves embroiled in the legal process," he said.

Following these allegations, the Pentagon has ordered American commanders to conduct additional core values training on legal, moral and ethical battlefield standards.

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