Iraq president: US asked to keep forces until 2015
The United States asked Iraq for permission to maintain a troop presence until 2015, but U.S. and Iraqi negotiators agreed to limit their authorization to 2011, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said. "It was a U.S. proposal for the date which is 2015, and an Iraqi one which is 2010, then we agreed to make it 2011. Iraq has the right, if necessary, to extend the presence of these troops," Talabani said in an interview with al-Hurra television.
The expected bilateral security agreement will provide a legal basis for U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires at the end of this year.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that, while overall negotiations continued, the two sides had accepted the end of 2011 as an end date for the presence of the approximately 145,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.