"He certainly doesn't consider it a snub."
Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki cancels a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates during his surprise visit to Iraq.
Secretary Gates gets bumped from al-Maliki's schedule and has to wait almost a full day to hold talks with the Iraqi Prime Minister after arriving in Baghdad December 10. Al-Maliki pushed back meeting with Gates because he had to spend the day defending himself before parliament, which had expressed severe security concerns following a recent series of bombings. He met with lawmakers for more than six hours after five coordinated bombings killed 127 people earlier that week.
Meanwhile, after months of wrangling, Iraqi lawmakers broker a deal that will allow for the first national elections since 2005 in early 2010. The news comes as a relief to American military commanders, who have been timing their withdrawal to the elections. Other good news this month: British hostage Peter Moore, held by a Shi'a militant group for more than two and a half years, is freed by his captors.