Iraq will send delegations to neighboring countries to explain a pact with the United States allowing U.S. troops to remain on its territory for three years, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office said on Friday.
Iraq is at pains to reassure its neighbors -- especially Iran which has influence among Maliki's fellow Shi'ites and opposes the presence of U.S. troops -- that the Americans would not use Iraq as a base to strike them, concerns heightened this week by a U.S. attack at the Syrian border which killed eight, Reuters reported.
The pact, which would allow U.S. troops to stay until 2011, has been held up after Baghdad asked for amendments, including tightening the wording on the withdrawal deadline and a stronger pledge not to use Iraqi territory to attack neighboring states.
Maliki made the pledge in a phone call with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, his office said in a statement.
"The prime minister confirmed that he will send delegations to neighboring countries to show them the security pact after receiving a response from the United States to the amendments which the Iraqi government proposed," the statement said.
Baghdad initially justified the U.S. raid in Syria as targeting militants, but eventually condemned it after Damascus complained, and said the amended version of the pact would clearly prohibit such strikes.
Washington has said it is studying the proposed Iraqi amendments to the pact, which would replace a U.N. Security Council mandate that expires at the end of this year.