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Bush, al-Maliki discuss withdrawal

President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke Friday by secure video as work on a plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2011 continued.

“There are still discussions ongoing,” said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe. “It's not done until it's done. And the discussions are really ongoing. And ongoing and ongoing. But hopefully drawing to a conclusion.”

Bush is vacationing at his ranch in Texas.

The deal being discussed by U.S. and Iraqi negotiators sets a course for American combat troops to pull out of major Iraqi cities by next June, with a broader exit two years later from the long and costly war that began in March 2003.

The dates could be adjusted if security and political progress in Iraq deteriorate.

There are about 140,000 U.S. forces in Iraq, according to United States Central Command.

More than 4,100 American troops have been killed during the conflict.

Johndroe would not discuss specifics of the plan being negotiated, including the dates when U.S. troops might begin to leave.

The president has previously resisted a timetable for the departure of U.S. troops.

“There are a lot of details that have to be worked out,” Johndroe said.

Increased security in Iraq, which the Bush administration said is due to the so-called surge of U.S. forces more than a year ago, created the conditions for the troop withdrawal negotiations to take place, Johndroe said.

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