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US, Iraq close to security deal
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A resident looks at a US soldier of 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment standing guard in a market in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, September 5, 2008. [Xinhua/Reuters Photo] 

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said in New York on Saturday that the two countries are close to a security deal.

"We are very close. I have said many times that I think it is in the final stages and this would need the support of all the political leaders about this agreement," Zebari said before his meeting with Rice on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"I hope there will be some good news for both of us and also to sustain and maintain the political and security gains that have been achieved in Iraq," he said.

Rice said there has been "good progress" in the talks of the security deal, although she said certain protections are needed to be agreed for the US forces stationed in Iraq.

The two countries have been negotiating the security deal as the UN mandate in Iraq will expire at the end of this year. According to both sides, the deal will not include a clear timetable for US forces to withdraw from Iraq and a US pullout will depend on security conditions in Iraq.

(Xinhua News Agency September 28, 2008)

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