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Iraq Questions Reports of US Talks With Insurgents


Iraqi officials say they are looking into reports that U.S. officials met with representatives of Iraqi insurgent groups in Turkey earlier this year.

Officials say they want to hear more details about the alleged talks from U.S. and Turkish officials.

Reports of two meetings during March and May in Istanbul emerged following news organizations' interviews with Ali al-Jubouri, a representative for Sunni insurgents. He said insurgents presented several demands, including an apology for the U.S.-led invasion and the release of all prisoners, but the talks broke down after the first two meetings.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is meeting with top officials in Washington, where he hinted that he is open to the presence of U.S. troops beyond their December 2011 withdrawal deadline.

Mr. Maliki meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden Friday.

Speaking in Washington Thursday, Mr. Maliki suggested that the withdrawal date may be reconsidered if "Iraqi forces required further training and further support."

The Iraqi leader spoke to an audience in Arabic and according to an interpreter's translation said Iraq will consider the deadline "based on the needs of Iraq."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Maliki stood by President Barack Obama at the White House as Mr. Obama said despite "tough days" ahead for Iraq, the United States is on schedule to withdraw all of its troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraqi cities less than one month ago on June 30 and transferred security responsibilities in those areas to Iraqi forces.

The United States still has about 130,000 troops in Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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