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Iraq against US troop presence after 2011

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Baghdad does not want the United States to maintain troops in Iraq after 2011, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Friday.

Baghdad does not want the United States to maintain troops in Iraq after 2011, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Friday.

"Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday that Iraqi government is against of any presence of U.S. troops or other foreign troops on Iraqi territory," said al-Dabbagh.

He said the presence of U.S. troops "causes internal problems and problems in the region for Iraq."

"The U.S. administration can not impose its will on Iraq. U.S. troops cannot remain in any country without the consent of the host country," the government spokesman said.

Gates said on Thursday that the United States would maintain troops in Iraq beyond the agreed 2011 final withdrawal date if Iraq's government asked for extra help.

"We are willing to have a presence beyond [2011,] but we've got a lot of commitments," Gates said during a question-and-answer session with troops at a U.S. military compound on the outskirts of Baghdad.

"So if folks here are going to want us to have a presence, we're going to need to get on with it pretty quickly in terms of our planning," he said.

The United States completed military operations in Iraq in summer 2009 and withdrew combat units. Most U.S. soldiers are scheduled to leave the country in summer 2011.

Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops are left in Iraq, down from a peak of more than 170,000.

BAGHDAD, April 8 (RIA Novosti)

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