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Obama Defense nominee believes Iraq will ask for continued U.S. presence

The current CIA Director and Obama's nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense told senators today that he has "every confidence" that the Iraqis will ask the U.S. to maintain a presence in Iraq beyond the December 2011 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal.

Asked whether the U.S. is on track to draw down troops from Iraq at the end of the year, Leon Panetta told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), "It's clear to me that Iraq is considering the possibility of making a request for some kind of presence to remain there."

Panetta said that he has "every confidence" that a request like that is "forthcoming at some point."

Speaking toward the end of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta added that the Iraqi prime minister and leadership would have to present the U.S. with what they need and on what timeline.