Obama, al-Maliki to chart next steps for US, Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will meet at the White House Monday to discuss the next phase of the relationship between their countries.

They will have plenty to discuss.

All U.S. troops will leave Iraq on Dec. 31, marking the end of a nearly nine-year war that has been deeply divisive in both the U.S. and Iraq.

Obama and al-Maliki have pledged to maintain strong ties, but the contours of the partnership between the U.S. and Iraq remain murky, especially with Iran eager to assert its influence. And serious questions remain about Iraq’s capacity to stabilize both its politics and security.

The White House says Obama and al-Maliki will discuss security issues, energy, commerce and education during Monday’s meeting.