Iraqi leaders get OK to negotiate continued U.S. troop presence

By Published: August 2, 2011

Iraq's political leaders gave the government the green light Tuesday to begin negotiating a deal with the U.S. to keep American troops in the country past the end of the year to train Iraqi security forces, The Associated Press reported.

Iraq's foreign minister cautioned that a final agreement is still far from settled and that no details were settled - like how many U.S. troops would stay, or for how long, or whether they would be given legal immunity from prosecution. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said immunity would be necessary for the Americans to agree to stay.

The U.S. has offered to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline.

The issue of whether the U.S. troops should stay is politically charged, and Iraqi politicians are torn between a war-weary public and a security situation that has deteriorated over the past year.