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Iraqi Minister Says Some U.S. Troops Might Stay Past Deadline

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Defense Minister Abd al-Qadir Jasim says that a conference will be held this month to decide if U.S. forces should stay in Iraq's more violence-ridden regions past the June 30 pullout date.

Jasim told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) that politics will be "strictly kept out" of the discussions.

Parliament member Nuraldin al-Hayali told RFI that all U.S. forces should withdraw by June 30, as stipulated by the U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement.

Al-Hayali said the Iraqi Islamic Party, of which he is a member, spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki about establishing locally recruited armies to help more volatile provinces transition safely after the U.S. forces leave.

But Abdul-Karim al-Samarraei of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the deputy chairman of the parliament's Defense and Security Committee, told RFI that the security situation in some provinces may require provisional U.S. forces after June 30.

U.S. Colonel Gary Volesky told reporters on April 14 that U.S. troops might stay past the deadline in the northern city of Mosul.