BAGHDAD (AFP) - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates discussed the future role of American troops in Iraq and the push for national reconciliation during a surprise visit to the war-scarred country on Tuesday. It is his first trip since US forces withdrew from Iraqi cities and towns at the end of last month under a security pact with Baghdad that requires them to pull out from the country entirely by the end of 2011. The feedback I got here is that the agreement has changed the chemistry of the relationship... in a positive way, Gates told reporters. Nobodys the boss or the occupier or however you want to put it, but theres a real sense of empowerment by the Iraqis. Gates held talks with Iraqi PM and met his Iraqi opposite number Abdel Qader Obeidi as well as the top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno. The June 30th repositioning of American troops and the continuing evolution of our security partnership is yet another step as we move together towards a fully normalised relationship between the United States and Iraq, he said at a Press conference with Obeidi. He said the two countries were coordinating closely to develop Iraqs military capabilities, adding that it was more important than ever to send clear priorities and focus on capabilities needed to ensure Iraqs domestic and external defence as our forces draw down. A senior US defence official said that among the possible hardware on Baghdads wish list are F-16 fighter planes as Iraq looks to build up a modern air force. Obeidi said he and Gates evaluated the situation of terrorism and the way we will cooperate and coordinate in the future until the end of 2011. We will continue to support Iraqs progress toward national unity, Gates said at the Press conference with Obeidi. And we will encourage progress towards ensuring all of Iraqs communities are represented in its security forces and institutions. Gates is due to travel to the autonomous Kurdish region following presidential and parliamentary polls on Saturday that saw a new reform-minded opposition group hail a breakthrough against the long-dominant former rebel factions. Implementation of the so-called Status of Forces Agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington in November has seen some friction between the remaining 128,000 American troops and Iraqi security forces.