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Top U.S. Military Officer In Iraqi Visit


The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, in Afghanistan earlier this week

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, in Afghanistan earlier this week

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, eight months after the last U.S. troops withdrew from the country.

After the meeting on August 21, Dempsey was quoted as saying the two had discussed the conflict in neighboring Syria, Iraq's interest in expanding training with U.S. forces, and the purchase of American military hardware, including radar, air defense weaponry, and equipment to bolster border security.

The general also held talks with Iraq's army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari, and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, who heads the U.S. Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq.

The office is responsible for facilitating Iraqi arms purchases and training Iraqis how to use and maintain the weapons.

U.S. security assistance programs include the sale of 12 billion dollars' worth of weapons to Iraq during 2012 alone, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery.

Future U.S. sales include F-16 fighter jets to be delivered from September 2014.

Before landing in Baghdad, Dempsey told the AFP news agency that the United States would "still retain significant investment and significant influence, but now it's on the basis of a partnership and not on the basis of ownership."

The last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011, sticking to a withdrawal deadline outlined in a 2008 security agreement.

The United States had hoped to maintain a military presence in the country beyond that deadline, but Washington was unable to reach a deal with the Iraqis on legal issues and immunity for American troops.

Dempsey arrived from Afghanistan where his parked plane was struck by a Taliban rocket attack.

The attack happened at the U.S. air base in Bagram.

Dempsey was not near the plane at the time but two members of a U.S. maintenance c

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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