Iraq Wants to Amend US Troops Agreement

Iraq demanded changes to a draft security pact with the United States Tuesday after it failed to win the support of its political leaders despite months of painstaking negotiations with Washington.

The announcement effectively reopens negotiations which had led last week to the unveiling of a draft that would require US forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. The objections appear to be about details rather than the broad thrust of the pact.

“The cabinet has agreed that necessary amendments to the pact could make it nationally accepted,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters after a cabinet meeting.

“The cabinet will continue its meetings in coming days, in which ministers will give their opinions and consult and provide the amendments suggested. Then this will be given to the American negotiating team.”

The announcement was an apparent reversal for Baghdad, which had previously described last week’s draft as a final text and said as recently as Saturday that it was unlikely to be renegotiated. Political leaders from most parties withheld their support for the text at a meeting Sunday.

The draft would require US troops to leave Iraq after 2011 unless Baghdad asks them to stay. It also allows Iraqi courts try US service members accused of serious crimes while off duty.

It would mean that the foreign troops, which now operate under a UN Security Council mandate, would function for the first time under the authority of the elected government in Baghdad. Both sides call it a milestone for Iraqi sovereignty.

via Reuters: Iraq seeks changes to US troops pact

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