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Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, has agreed with the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and political rivals to authorise negotiations with the US to "boost" the capacity of Iraqi security forces.

Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, says the agreement is just the first instalment in a series of difficult talks ahead.

"Now we have an almost unanimous decision by all the political leaders for negotiation on the Iraqi need for trainers, for weapons systems, for boosting the capabilities of Iraqi military or security forces," he said.

"Then the next thing will come - what are the needs, the numbers; what are the missions."

The agreement, Zebari said, was "almost unanimous" in the sense that the Sadrists - an important partner in al-Maliki's coalition government - have said they will vote against it.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad.

Source: Aljazeera