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Pentagon Briefs Obama Transition Team on Iraq Pullout

The U.S. Defense Department says top military officials have briefed President-elect Barack Obama's national security team on plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Iraq next year.

Mr. Obama has said he wants U.S. forces to leave Iraq within 16 months. Military officials did not say whether the Pentagon's plans match Mr. Obama's.

In a television interview on PBS this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said thousands of U.S. forces could remain in Iraq after 2011 - the withdrawal date mandated by a recently approved security agreement with Iraq. Gates said the troops would serve in a "very different role" than in the last five years.

Separately, Iraq's deputy interior minister told VOA Kurdish service Friday that the 23 officials arrested this week were not involved in a military coup. Those detained were allegedly working to rebuild the outlawed Baath party of former leader Saddam Hussein.

The deputy interior minister said he expects the men to be found innocent at the end of the present investigation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military in Iraq says its forces have arrested an Iranian intelligence agent believed to be involved in training Iraqi militants.

Military officials Friday announced that coalition forces have detained the Iranian special operations chief in Qastin, some 30 kilometers north of Baghdad. They said a second man, his associate, was arrested at the same time.