Iraqi leaders have agreed to talk with United States officials about leaving some American soldiers inside the country after the scheduled troop departure on Dec. 31.
After four hours of closed-door meetings, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and senior officials said they would negotiate with U.S. military personnel.
The conversation between Iraq and the United States has been going on for months, as American officials fear that their security efforts could come undone once troops are sent home.
The Iraqi policy-makers also agreed that the United States Army can continue its Iraqi military training programs for the time being.
“The meeting had been very good, during which a collective agreement was reached... on the issue of the American training, but all others have agreed on the decision,” President Talabani said in a statement.
"After extensive discussions, the leaders of the political blocs headed by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani have agreed to let the Iraqi government start negotiations with the American side only on the issues of training and under the Strategic Framework Agreement," Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nouri Shawees told reporters at the president's residence.
There are no details on how many troops the United States wants to keep in the country, but it could be several thousand, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Still, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari may still insist that all U.S. troops leave by end of the year, as promised, although he praised the Iraqi political coalition's cooperation, as did the United States.
“There seems to be broad partnerships and political coalitions emerging that take tough decisions,” said a senior U.S. Embassy official who spoke anonymously to the Washington Post.
“This is very good, because we don’t want to be the security partner to a dictatorship or to a one-party regime, but rather, we believe we should have acceptance by a broad range of political forces in this country.”