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Iraq’s Request For 5,000 U.S. ‘Trainers’ Signals That Internal Negotiations Are Over

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in a statement yesterday that Iraq has officially requested at least 5,000 U.S. troops — or “trainers” — to stay in Iraq past the year-end total withdrawal deadline. “We have agreed to retain more than 5,000 American trainers, without giving them immunity,” Talabani said. “We have sent them our agreement to retain this number and are awaiting their response: yes or no.” McClatchy notes that Talabani’s remark was significant because it “seemed intended to clarify that, at least from an Iraqi perspective, negotiations were over, and the U.S. was expected merely either to agree to stay on or decline to do so.” “If the Americans do not agree to leave behind the trainers without immunity, then we have three choices: to ask for trainers of the (weapons) manufacturing companies, to seek the assistance of NATO or to send members of the Iraqi armed forces to train abroad,” Talabani said.

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