Initial agreement reached on withdrawal of US troops from Iraq

Other News Materials 4 August 2008 14:12 (UTC +04:00)

Iraqi and US teams negotiating a controversial security pact have reached an initial agreement that states that US troops will withdraw from Iraq between 2010 and 2011, the pro- government Iraqi Al-Sabah newspaper reported Monday.

The newspaper reported that "the Iraqi and American technical teams have already reported the outcome of their negotiations to their political leaders during the past days."

The paper also reported that ongoing negotiations between both parties is nearing an end, allowing the signing of a "memorandum of understanding" very soon, reported dpa.

The paper quoted anonymous Iraqi sources as saying that "there is a great development in the talks and we reached an initial bilateral agreement for the pullout of US troops by 2010 and 2011."

The US and Iraq have been negotiating the security pact, also called the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), since March.

The long term agreement would lay down the legal basis for a continued US military presence in Iraq after a UN mandate expires in December.

However, after months of disputes and criticism, the United States and Iraq are working on a short-term "memorandum of understanding" instead.

Several Iraqi politicians and lawmakers are against the mandate, saying it will violate the country's sovereignty.

The most vocal of critics is radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al- Sadr, who strongly opposes the US presence in Iraq. He called on Iraqis to unite and stand up against the accord by all means possible.

Iran also opposes any deal between Baghdad and Washington which extends the presence of US troops in the neighbouring country.