Iraqi PM Seeks Political Support to Keep U.S. Troops in His Country

By Staff | May 11, 2011 | 7:00 AM EDT

Baghdad (AP) - Iraq's prime minister says he would be willing to ask thousands of American troops to remain in the country next year as long as the main political parties back the idea.

Nouri al-Maliki told reporters on Wednesday he will meet the country's political leaders soon to gauge support for having U.S. troops stay beyond a December withdrawal deadline.

The issue of the Americans staying has sharply divided Iraqis who face deadly security threats every day but want to assert independence more than eight years after the 2003 U.S. military invasion.

Sunni and Kurdish leaders generally want U.S. troops to continue protecting the country.

But hardline Shiites who helped al-Maliki get a second term have threatened to revolt if American soldiers remain.