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Number of US Troops in Iraq Reaches All-Time High


The U.S. military says nearly 162,000 American troops are now in Iraq, more than at any other stage of the war.

A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said new troop arrivals are temporarily raising the number of U.S. forces above the 161,000 who helped secure the 2005 Iraqi elections.

The spokesman said the number of troops would fluctuate up from 156,000 in the coming months as troops rotate in and out of their deployments.

In New York City Tuesday, diplomats at the United Nations discussed expanding the U.N.'s political role in Iraq.

A U.N. official, Under Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe, said there is wide support for increasing the number of U.N. staffers in Iraq from 65 to 95. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the body can promote national reconciliation in Iraq and reduce regional disagreements.

In Ankara Tuesday, the leaders of Turkey and Iraq agreed to work together to remove the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed ways of dealing with the PKK. The two leaders described their wide-ranging talks as positive.

Turkey says the PKK uses bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks inside Turkey. The head of northern Iraq's Kurdish administration, Massoud Barzani, has rejected Turkey's demands to crack down on PKK guerrillas.

Turkey has previously threatened cross border raids to deal with the PKK. But the United States and Iraq say such operations could destabilize Iraq's relatively calm Kurdish north.

Mr. Maliki heads to Iran Wednesday.

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