Obama, Maliki set to chart next steps for US and Iraq | india | Hindustan Times
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Obama, Maliki set to chart next steps for US and Iraq

india Updated: Dec 13, 2011 00:57 IST

With the US troop withdrawal from Iraq in its final days, President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki will meet at the White House on Monday to discuss the next phase of the relationship between their countries.

They will have plenty to discuss.The withdrawal of all American troops on December 31 marks the end of an eight year war that has been deeply divisive in both the US and Iraq.

While Obama and al-Maliki have pledged to maintain strong ties, the contours of the partnership between Washington and Baghdad remain murky, especially with Iran eager to assert influence over neighboring Iraq.

And serious questions remain about Iraq's capacity to stabilize both its politics and security.

Yet the end of the war still marks a promise kept for Obama, one the White House is eager to promote.

In addition to his meeting with al-Maliki, Obama will mark the milestone Wednesday when he speaks to troops at North Carolina's Fort Bragg.

And he thanked service members and their families for their sacrifices on Saturday when he attended the annual Army-Navy football game.As of late last week, the number of US troops in Iraq had dwindled to about 8,000, down from 170,000 at the war's peak.

Monday's meeting between Obama and al-Maliki is expected to focus heavily on how the US and Iraq will continue to cooperate on security issues without the presence of American troops. Iraqi leaders have said they want US military training help for their security forces but have been unable to agree on what type of help they'd like or what protections they would willing to give to Americans.