Iraq, US reach final agreement on security pact
Washington and Baghdad have reached a final agreement after months of talks on a pact that would require American troops to withdraw from Iraq by 2011, U.S. and Iraqi officials said on Wednesday.
The bilateral pact replaces a U.N. Security Council resolution enacted after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and will give Iraq's elected government authority over the U.S. troop presence for the first time. According to Reuters, Iraq said it had secured the right to prosecute American soldiers for serious crimes under certain circumstances.
The agreement was submitted to Iraqi political leaders for approval, a first step toward ratifying it in the Iraqi parliament, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
According to him the agreement envisions U.S. forces withdrawing from Iraqi towns and villages by the middle of next year, and withdrawing completely from the country within three years. For them to stay longer, a new pact would need to be agreed. "The withdrawal is to be achieved in three years. In 2011, the government at that time will determine whether it needs a new pact or not, and what type of pact will depend on the challenges it faces," he told Reuters.