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Gates, Maliki Discuss U.S.-Iraqi Security Partnership

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2009 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed Iraq security issues when the two met at the Pentagon late this afternoon.

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates hosts a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the Pentagon, July 23, 2009, A broad range of issues were expected to be discussed as Iraqi security forces assume the primary role of security providers. Among those joining Gates for the talks is Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. DoD photo by R. D. Ward

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Gates and Maliki addressed the U.S.-Iraqi security relationship and equipment needs for Iraqi soldiers and police, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

Their conversation, Morrell said, focused “largely on our security partnership, on ways that we can continue to help the Iraqi security forces grow in size and capability, so that they are able to fully exert their sovereignty and protect the people from external and internal threats.”

Gates acknowledged during today’s meeting with Maliki that the current processes employed to provide equipment to Iraqi military and police are too slow and need to be streamlined, Morrell said.

Therefore, he continued, Gates is “working on creative ways” to provide Iraqi security forces -- and other allies – the equipment that they need as quickly as possible.

“Speed and flexibility are what our system needs and doesn’t have to the degree that we would like,” Morrell said.

Gates and Maliki also discussed the “tremendous progress” that’s been made in Iraq over the past few years, he said.

President Barack Obama and Maliki discussed the June 30 transfer of security leadership to Iraqi authorities at a news conference held yesterday at the White House. American military forces withdrew from Iraqi cities and towns as part of the agreement.

“This transition was part of our security agreement and should send an unmistakable signal that we will keep our commitments with the sovereign Iraqi government,” Obama said at yesterday’s news conference.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates, left foreground, hosts a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, at the Pentagon, July 23, 2009. Also participating in the talks is Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Samir Shakir al-Sumaydi, center. A female interpreter sits between the two Iraqi men. DoD photo by R. D. Ward  
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