Iraq Says Pact To Allow U.S. Troops Until 2011

October 15, 2008

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A draft agreement with the United States requires U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 unless asked to stay, and gives Iraq the right to try them for felonies committed while off duty, Iraq said on Wednesday.

The long-awaited security deal between Washington and Baghdad is needed to provide a legal basis for U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after a U.N. Security Council resolution expires at the end of this year.

A final draft of the pact, hammered out over months of negotiations between Washington and Baghdad, has been submitted to Iraqi politicians for approval.

It had been held up for months by disagreement over the circumstances under which Iraqi courts could try U.S. soldiers and how long they could stay in the country.

“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,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters.

On the issue of immunity for U.S. troops, he said: “Inside their bases, they will be under American law. Iraqi judicial law will be implemented in case these forces commit a serious and deliberate felony outside their military bases and when off duty.”

The pact still must be approved by Iraqi political leaders, the Iraqi cabinet and parliament. Dabbagh said Baghdad will seek an extension of a U.N. mandate for the U.S. troops if the pact is not in place by the end of this year.

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