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Obama, Maliki Meet in Washington


U.S. President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are meeting at the White House for talks expected to address Mr. Obama's desire to see more progress on Iraq's national reconciliation.

The two leaders are expected to discuss ongoing disputes between Mr. Maliki's Shi'ite Muslim majority allies, minority Sunnis and ethnic Kurds.

Mr. Obama has said political reconciliation is essential to Iraq's long-term security and stability.

Mr. Maliki is expected to push for a partnership beyond security, and encourage foreign investment to help Iraq flourish as a sovereign nation.

They also are expected to discuss oil revenue and boundary disputes.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Maliki was in New York for a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Iraqi prime minister also met with the five permanent members of the Security Council to press for the lifting of sanctions that were imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War.

The U.N. requires Iraq to pay reparations to Kuwait for Saddam Hussein's invasion of the country in 1990.

Last week, an Iraqi delegation led by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with Mr. Ban to discuss the payments. At that time, Iraq's Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying Iraqi officials called for a specific time to be released from the consequences of related U.N. resolutions imposed on the country.

Wednesday's meeting marks the first time Mr. Maliki and Mr. Obama have seen one another since U.S. combat troops pulled out of Iraqi cities at the end of June.

Iraqi forces assumed responsibility for security in urban centers as of June 30.

The United States has about 128,000 troops in Iraq, and the U.S. and Iraq have agreed that all U.S. forces will be withdrawn by the end of 2011.

Mr. Maliki also is due to meet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner during his U.S. visit.

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