(BAGHDAD) -- As violence in his country approaches levels not seen since the height of the Iraq war, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki plans to seek assistance from the U.S. during his talks in Washington this week. Before departing from Baghdad Tuesday, the embattled leader told a TV news conference, "We will discuss...security and intelligence cooperation in addition to the file of arming [Iraq]."
The discussions with Obama will come nearly two years after the U.S. withdrew all its forces from Iraq after the two governments failed to arrive at a post-war agreement that would have given American soldiers immunity from prosecution during their deployment.
As a result, the U.S. only left behind a few hundred troops to guard the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy. It's been speculated that the absence of a large American force in Iraq helped al Qaeda and its allies to regroup, resulting in a dramatic spike of bombings and other assaults this year.
So far in 2013, more than 5,350 deaths have been reported, with the bulk occurring after the April provincial elections and a government-led attack on a Sunni encampment that fueled the revitalized insurgency.
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