Pentagon Denies Jan. 1 Iraq Pullout

Discussions with Baghdad 'are ongoing': spokesman
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2011 3:43 PM CDT
Updated Oct 15, 2011 5:43 PM CDT
Washington Drops Plan to Keep US Troops in Iraq
Members of Montana's 163rd Alpha Company take pictures in front of an American flag as they prepare to depart Iraq at the conclusion of their tour on July 16, 2011 in Iskandariya, Iraq.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The Pentagon threw cold water on a story today that US troops are leaving Iraq by year's end, MSNBC reports. "Suggestions that a final decision has been reached about our training relationship with the Iraqi government are wrong," a Pentagon spokesman said. "Those discussions are ongoing." Earlier, the AP reported that Washington failed to renew its security agreement with Baghdad, and would pull out its 41,000 troops by Jan. 1 as planned.

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The sticking point was apparently immunity for US troops from Iraqi prosecution. Washington doesn't want to see US soldiers on trial over controversies like Abu Ghraib and the Haditha killings; Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki couldn't promise "immunity votes" in parliament. Even if the US does pull out, it could place troops in nearby Kuwait, and would maintain a huge diplomatic presence in Iraq—including about 5,000 security contractors and personnel to protect diplomats and facilities. (Read more Iraq stories.)

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