Iraqi PM suggests US might be asked to leave

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki suggested that US forces might be asked to leave if the two countries cannot agree on the new status of forces agreement, McClatchy reported Friday.

Maliki, seen above, made the comment after pressure from Shiite lawmakers who feel that Iraq’s sovereignty is threatened by US forces and after talks over the status of forces agreement “reached an impasse,” according to McClatchy.

“Iraq has another option that it may use,” Maliki said during a visit to Amman, Jordan. “The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil.”

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said that although talks over the security pact are struggling, Baghdad and Maliki are committed to concluding the agreement, Reuters reported Friday.

“I think it’s too early really to judge this agreement that it is dead or there is no way out,” he said after attending a U.N. Security Council meeting on Iraq.

The U.N. mandate for a US presence in Iraq expires at the end of the year, McClatchy reported.

An excerpt from the McClatchy story details the nations’ conflict over the status of forces agreement:

“Maliki acknowledged that talks with the U.S. on a status of forces agreement “reached an impasse” after the American negotiators presented a draft that would have given the U.S. access to 58 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and immunity from prosecution for both U.S. soldiers and private contractors.

The Iraqis rejected those demands, and U.S. diplomats have submitted a second draft, which Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told McClatchy included several major concessions. Among those would be allowing Iraq to prosecute private contractors for violations of Iraqi law and requiring U.S. forces to turn over to Iraqi authorities Iraqis that the Americans detain.”
http://rawstory.com/news08/2008/06/13/iraqi-pm-suggests-us-might-be-asked-to-leave/