WASHINGTON — US and Iraqi officials are looking into keeping 10,000 US troops in the country beyond a year's end deadline for a complete withdrawal, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The talks are politically sensitive for both countries, with Americans keen to end their involvement in Iraq and Iraqis concerned that prolonging the troop presence could fuel sectarian tensions and protests, it said.
The paper, citing unnamed officials, said US military commanders believe that leaving at least 10,000 troops beyond 2011 could promote greater security and prevent Iran from expanding its regional influence.
However, such a plan would require presidential approval, and US President Barack Obama -- a critic of the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein -- has not yet said whether he would sign off on it.
"We have conversations with the Iraqis constantly about security issues," it quoted an Obama administration official as saying.