Iraqi prime minister: 'Durable' relationship with US is 'vital'

“Solidifying a durable relationship between our two countries is vital,” he wrote. “In the coming months, we must mutually focus on economic growth as well as culture, education and the sciences.”

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The hydrocarbon legislation will be key, and a final pact would allow Iraq’s Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish sects to divide Iraq’s oil profits.

“A solution to the debates surrounding hydrocarbon is paramount to Iraq’s economic growth,” al-Maliki said.

Many officials, lawmakers and experts in both Washington and Baghdad continue to predict a deterioration of security across Iraq once all U.S. forces are removed by the end of this month.

But the prime minister expressed confidence in “the capabilities of our security forces and in the necessity of U.S. assistance.”