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Iraqi assembly in closed session to discuss US pact

by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) July 1, 2008
MPs from Iraq's parliament went into a closed session with the country's foreign minister on Tuesday to discuss the controversial long-term security pact with Washington.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was briefing MPs on developments in the talks between Washington and Baghdad over the military pact dealing with US forces, the parliament said in a statement.

US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed in principle last November to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the end of July.

The agreement is to set down the ground rules for a continuing US troop presence in 2009 after the UN mandate for foreign forces expires in December 2008.

But last month Maliki said the talks had reached a deadlock amid strong opposition from all the political factions, with some Shiite leaders denouncing the proposed agreement as "eternal slavery" for Iraq.

Among the questions the pact is expected to address are how many bases Washington will maintain, whether US authorities would be allowed to arrest and detain Iraqi civilians, and whether US troops and foreign private security contractors would be immune from Iraqi prosecution.

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Outside View: Iraq realities -- Part 2
Washington (UPI) Jun 30, 2008
The suppression of violence and the reduction in U.S. casualties in Iraq over the past year and a half was not U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker's or U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus' accomplishment. It was achieved by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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