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Iraq to open talks with U.S. on military training


Iraq will open talks with Washington over a military training mission to last beyond a 2011 pullout deadline, Baghdad's Foreign Minister said on Wednesday, after months of US appeals for a decision.

The move is a key first step to reaching an agreement on the future of the US troop presence here, with Admiral Mike Mullen, the top American military officer, warning a day earlier that time was running out to strike a deal.

"The political blocs have agreed to let the government start negotiations with the American side only on the issues of training," Hoshyar Zebari told AFP, following an hours-long closed door meeting of Iraqi politicians, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in Baghdad.

"This is a declaration of intent to let the government start the negotiations," added Zebari, who took part in the meeting, before noting that there were as yet "no details about the numbers or about new agreements."

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