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Iraq's Prime Minister Calls for Talks on US Troops

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki holds a press conference in Baghdad as he called for a dialogue with rival blocs to gauge whether or not US troops currently in Iraq should stay beyond a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, May 11, 2011

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for talks with political leaders to discuss whether Iraq will ask U.S. forces to remain in the country next year.

Maliki said Wednesday he wants to evaluate support for the move before the government decides on keeping U.S. soldiers in the country or allowing the December 31 withdrawal deadline to remain in place. He did not say whether he personally supports keeping U.S. troops in Iraq.

Last month, Maliki said his country's forces do not need help in maintaining internal security beyond the American troop withdrawal date.

However, he added that Baghdad may need assistance with external security. He said Iraq still faces external challenges because it needs more money and training, especially for its air force.

Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops currently remain in Iraq, and most are working in advisory roles.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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