This morning President Obama is hosting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a meeting at the Oval Office aimed at solidifying U.S.-Iraqi relations as the December 31st deadline for complete U.S. withdrawal approaches. The two will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

There are currently 6,000 U.S. troops left in Iraq, nearly nine years after the campaign was launched. Obama plans a speech to returning soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Wednesday to mark the milestone.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will be Iraq’s leader for the next three years, and faces challenges including Iranian influence, unrest in neighboring Syria, and the continued development of Iraqi security forces – a top agenda item for today’s meeting being the level of training the U.S. will continue to provide.

Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, the deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq, in a video briefing last week that “we really don’t know what’s going to happen” after U.S. troops leave.