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US House Speaker Visits Iraq

Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner (file photo)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner that Iraqi security forces are ready to protect the country.

Boehner made an unannounced trip to Iraq on Saturday. It was his first to the country since he became speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in January.

Maliki said in a statement released by his office that Iraq's armed forces are "able to bear the responsibility of maintaining security." He also said Iraq looks forward to strengthening cooperation with the United States in the areas of training and arming forces.

About 47,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi forces. The United States plans to remove the last of its troops from Iraq by the end of the year.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, during a visit to Iraq earlier this month, said the United States is willing to keep some soldiers in Iraq past the withdrawal deadline if Iraq requests it.

U.S. forces have been in Iraq since a U.S.-led invasion in March, 2003, led to the ouster of Iraq's late dictator Saddam Hussein.

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

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