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Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Visits Iraq


Kuwait's foreign minister met Iraqi officials in Baghdad Thursday in the highest level Kuwaiti visit to Iraq since Saddam Hussein's forces invaded its neighbor in 1990.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Sabah, who is also one of Kuwait's deputy prime ministers, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in what both countries call a sign of improving relations.

At a joint news conference, Mr. Maliki urged other Arab states to change the way they deal with Iraq, saying the country is no longer the militarized dictatorship it was under Saddam.

The visit coincided with the 18th anniversary of Kuwait's 1991 liberation from the Iraqi occupation.

Authorities in southern Iraq on Thursday buried the remains of more than 480 soldiers who died during two wars: the first Gulf War, which followed the invasion of Kuwait, and the devastating Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.

The bodies were buried in a cemetery outside of Basra. At least 200 of them belonged to Iraqi soldiers whose bodies were returned to Iraq by Iran last year. The bodies of more than 60 Iraqis killed during the First Gulf War were returned from Saudi Arabia.

In other news, Iraqi officials say two Iraqi soldiers were killed early Thursday and at least 10 other people wounded when a roadside bomb struck near an Iraqi army patrol in Baghdad. They say most of the people wounded were students.

On Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said President Barack Obama will announce a decision, possibly as early as Friday, on withdrawing some U.S. troops from Iraq.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama said he wanted to pull U.S. combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months.

On Tuesday, U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told news agencies that Mr. Obama is expected to announce a 19-month withdrawal plan. The officials said some 40,000 troops could remain longer to advise and train Iraqi forces.

Under a U.S.-Iraq security deal reached last year, all U.S. combat forces must be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Around 142,000 U.S. troops are serving in Iraq.

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