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U.S Defense Secretary Visits Iraq



On July 12, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Kurdistan's capital of Arbil at the end of his trip to Iraq to meet with Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan region. He had earlier met Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. His visit was aimed at highlighting several issues of joint interest. This is Mr. Panetta's first visit to Iraq since he was appointed as defense secretary earlier this month. Kurdistan's Prime Minister Barham Saleh hosted a reception at the headquarters of their government which was attended by several officials. It has been reported that at least three U.S. service members have been killed since Mr. Panetta was appointed, while 14 were killed in June. 46,000 U.S troops are still in Iraq after being deployed to the country eight years ago when former President Saddam Hussein was expelled after a US invasion. Washington is scheduled to withdraw its forces by the end of this year under an agreement between the two countries. U.S. officials including Mr. Panetta have been pressing on Baghdad to decide whether it wants an extension of U.S. forces beyond the year-end deadline or a complete withdrawal as planned. Speaker: Leon Panetta, US Defense Secretary By: Ikram Al Yacoub Al Arabiya With Agencies

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