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US, Iraqi Officials Expected to Start Negotiations on Future Relationship

U.S. and Iraqi officials are expected to start negotiations Saturday in Baghdad on agreements to govern future relations between the two countries.

The U.S. Defense Department says U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will lead the American negotiating team. A Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, says Washington expects a lengthy period of negotiations with Iraq.

U.S. officials say the talks are aimed at reaching two main agreements, one of which they describe as a "strategic framework" for U.S.-Iraqi relations. They say such an agreement would establish long-term cooperation on political, economic and security issues.

U.S. officials say negotiators also will discuss a "status of forces" agreement that would provide a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces on Iraqi territory. A U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the U.S.-led coalition presence in Iraq expires in December.

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials say coalition forces have killed one terrorist and arrested eight people in operations today in central and northern Iraq. At least two of those detained are suspected of having ties to al-Qaida in Iraq.

In other developments, U.S. military officials say one soldier was killed and another wounded Friday in an explosion during an operation in Diyala.

In Baghdad Friday, funerals were held for many of the 68 people killed in a double bomb attack Thursday in a shopping area in the city's Karrada district. About 120 people were wounded in the blasts, which the U.S. military blamed on al-Qaida.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.