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Iraq PM Nouri al-Maliki calls for US investment

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has called on US business leaders to invest in his country to help it recover from years of war.

The call comes as the last US troops prepare to pull out of Iraq.

Speaking during a visit to Washington, Mr Maliki said security had improved and corporations rather than generals were now leading Iraq's future.

The US currently accounts for slightly more than a tenth of total foreign investment in Iraq.

Mr Maliki is in Washington with some 40 Iraqi business leaders hoping to sign business and trade deals.

He told potential investors at the US Chamber of Commerce that as well as oil, there were many other sectors which could be of interest, including healthcare, telecommunications, construction and financial services.

He said the possibilities for US firms were "limitless" and that they were best-placed to help Iraq diversify its economy.

"It is not now the generals but the businessmen and the corporations that are at the forefront," he said.

"All sectors of the economy are there, open for business for American business."

After meeting Mr Maliki on Monday, US President Barack Obama said he believed the Iraqi economy would grow at an even faster rate than India or China.

He confirmed that no US bases or troops would remain in the country next year but said the US would maintain a strong relationship with the country.

"We've got an enormous investment of blood and treasure in Iraq," Mr Obama said.

"And we want to make sure that even as we bring the last troops out, that it's well understood, both in Iraq and here in the United States, that our commitment to Iraq's success is going to be enduring."

Foreign investment in Iraq has this year totalled $70bn (£45bn).

But the BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington says there are lingering concerns in the US about security and about Iraq's sometimes confusing regulation of key sectors.

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