Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama hasn’t made a final decision on U.S. personnel levels remaining in Iraq past 2011, spokesmen for the White House and the Defense Department said today.
An Associated Press report, citing two unidentified officials, said the administration had made the decision to pull out all but 160 troops by the Dec. 31 deadline set between the two countries in 2008. The remaining troops would be attached to the embassy, the AP reported.
The U.S. and Iraq have been negotiating over whether some American military personnel may stay past the end of the year, when the remaining 50,000 are due to leave. Both governments have said Iraq needs help with external security and the continued training and development of its security forces.
“President Obama has repeatedly made it clear that we are committed to keeping our agreement with the Iraqi government to remove all of our troops by the end of this year,” Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in an e-mail.
“At the same time, we’re building a comprehensive partnership with Iraq under the Strategic Framework Agreement, including a robust security relationship, and discussions with the Iraqis about the nature of that relationship are ongoing,” Vietor said.
Among the issues on which the two nations have disagreed is immunity from prosecution for members of the U.S. forces. Iraq said earlier this month that should any U.S. personnel stay in the country past the year-end withdrawal deadline, they won’t be granted immunity, prompting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to say that Iraq must give at least some legal protections. Among the issues still being worked out is the training relationship between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
“Suggestions that a final decision has been reached about our training relationship with the Iraqi government are wrong,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in an e-mail.
--With assistance from Kate Andersen Brower and Viola Gienger in Washington. Editors: Chris Thompson, Ann Hughey
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