US not Desiring to Stay in Iraq – US Department of Defence Official

Politics Materials 14 July 2008 17:04 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, 14 July / Trend corr G.Ahmadova, D.Khatinoglu / Pentagon official Mark Wright stated the United States had not designed a plan for permanent military bases in Iraq. "There is no plan, nor any desire, for permanent military bases in Iraq," Mark Wright, Press Officer of the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs, told Trend .

British newspaper The Guardian reported that it had got a confidential draft agreement on prospects of US forces in Iraq, which includes an item on time unlimited military presence of the United States in the country. The secret draft strategic basic agreement between American administration and Iraqi government dated 7 March is to replace the current UN mandate. It allows the United States to carry out unlimited military operations in Iraq and detention of people for the sake of security.

Wright said it is too early to speak about schedule of withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. According to Baghdad, the schedule may be reflected in a new security agreement with Washington. "I wouldn't comment on these ongoing discussions. But as Ambassador Crocker has made clear, the U.S. has full respect for Iraqi sovereignty, and any agreement will reflect that. The agreements will be fully transparent," he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offered Washington last week to design a schedule of withdrawal of US troops from the country and to include it into a new security agreement between the two countries.

As to operations against Al-Qaeda being carried out by coalition forces in the north of Iraq, Wright said they are achieving their goals. "The cumulative effect of Coalition and Iraqi Security Force efforts continues to shrink the areas in which Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and its insurgent allies enjoy support and sanctuary. In a particularly noteworthy development, Iraqi forces launched clearing operations in Ninewa province on May 10, 2008, that have disrupted AQI's grip on Mosul," said US Defence Department's official.

According to Wright, nevertheless, AQI remains a dangerous and adaptable enemy that seeks to control areas where Coalition and Iraqi force presence is minimal. As AQI comes under increased pressure in Mosul, there have been indications that it is attempting to regroup along the upper Euphrates River.

"AQI also remains capable of high-profile attacks, though its indiscriminate targeting of civilians continues to alienate AQI from the mainstream Sunni population it claims to represent," he said.

The United States and Iraq are in consultations about a new agreement to provide legal basis for further presence of US troops in the country. The mandate which UN issued for US authorities to maintain security in Iraq, is expiring on 31 December, 2008.

At his meeting with Iraq's Premier Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad on 1 June, 2008, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker presented to Iraqis a draft agreement on bilateral security cooperation which was developed by US State Department's specialists.

Speaking on protection of the US interests in Iraq in case of a possible war between US and Iran, Wright said the United States government remains committed to a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program. The President and the State Department are working with the international community, including the European Union, the IAEA, and the United Nations, to address this issue.