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Door nearly closed on Iraq troop deal, Gates says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday expressed “great reluctance” about altering a draft agreement with the Iraqi government that would govern the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq after December 31.

“There is great reluctance to engage further in the drafting process,” Gates told reporters.

“I don’t think you slam the door shut, but I would say it’s pretty far closed,” he added, warning that failure to reach a new status of forces agreement (SOFA) or renew the current U.N. mandate for U.S. troops would mean “we basically stop doing anything.”

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kristin Roberts

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