Jul 5, 2011 4:01 PM by Associated Press (BT)
BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S. officials say the White House is offering to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq next year, despite opposition from many Iraqis and from key Democrats who are demanding that President Barack Obama bring home the troops as promised.
There would have to be a formal request from Baghdad to keep the troops there after the end of this year. A decision from Iraq isn't expected until September at the earliest.
Senior officials say the White House has already worked out options to keep as many as 10,000 troops in Iraq to continue training Iraqi security forces next year.
The Senate's top Democrat, Sen. Harry Reid, says the high cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is no longer necessary -- considering the mounting U.S. debt crisis and Iraq's fledgling security gains.
Iraq's top military commander has long maintained that Iraqi security forces need another decade of training and aid before they can protect the country alone.
But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuses to publicly endorse a troop extension.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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