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US, Iraq Renew Defense Commitments: US and Iraqi officials reaffirmed the two nations' commitment to strengthening security cooperation, enhancing Iraq's defense capabilities, and modernizing Iraq's military forces during meetings in Bagdad this week, announced the Defense Department. The capstone event during the Dec. 5-6 gathering was the exchange of a memorandum of understanding between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Iraqi counterpart Saadoun al Dlimi that provides mechanisms for increased cooperation in defense planning, training, and counterterrorism efforts, according to DOD's Dec. 6 release. The two delegations also explored US-Iraq training opportunities and Iraq's participation in regional exercises, and discussed "the strong and growing foreign military sales program" for Iraq's military, states the release. They jointly decried the ongoing violence in Syria, favoring "a political transition that would represent the will of the Syrian people," according to the release. This was the second meeting of the Defense and Security Joint Coordination Committee under the auspices of the US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement of 2008. Both sides committed to a third committee meeting in Washington, D.C., in 2013.