September 1, 2008 6:00 AM

Maliki's growing defiance of U.S. worries allies and critics

A week ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki at a meeting with tribal sheikhs insisted that a firm date be set for a U.S. withdrawal in a security agreement that has been under intense negotiations for months. That rankled U.S. officials, who'd publicly assured reporters that the deal was virtually done.

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