US' Boehner says small US force should stay in Iraq

WASHINGTON Tue May 3, 2011 4:53pm EDT

WASHINGTON May 3 (Reuters) - A "small, residual" U.S. force should remain in Iraq beyond the end of this year, past a scheduled withdrawal, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki spoke of gaps in Iraqi border security and intelligence during Boehner's recent visit to Iraq, the speaker told a small group of reporters in his office. The Obama administration should engage Iraq to get a deal for some troops to stay, he said: "I think a small, residual force should remain."

Boehner, a Republican, also said that the United States should not "back away" from Pakistan, despite the fact that Osama bin Laden had been found and killed in a compound there. He favored maintaining U.S. aid to that country, so long as an "eyeball to eyeball" conversation is held with Pakistan about ties, he said.