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Talks to keep U.S. troops in Iraq provoke ire

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In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, four senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week accused the Bush administration of reneging on its promise of transparency with the Congress on the negotiating process. The bipartisan letter said the administration had committed to consulting closely with Congress "throughout the entire process" but that "scant detail" has been forthcoming so far.

The US-Iraq security accord was at the center of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's visit Sunday to Tehran, where he tried to assuage Iranian leaders' concerns about a permanent US presence on their doorstep. "We will not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran," Mr. Maliki said, according to IRNA, the state-run Iranian news service.

The Maliki government wants the agreement with the US to replace a United Nations mandate for the stationing of foreign forces in the country, which expires at year's end. But its growing economic and political relationship with Tehran is testing its ability to simultaneously pursue a US-Iraqi accord.

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