Friday, November 7, 2008

Iraq insists on 'fixed date' for pullout. Here we go already.

BAGHDAD, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Iraqis want a "fixed date" for withdrawal of U.S. troops despite U.S. demands that a pullout hinges on security conditions, Iraq's chief spokesman said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have been negotiating a "status of forces" agreement needed for continued U.S. troop presence in Iraq after a United Nations authorization mandate expires Dec. 31.

"Iraqis would like to know and see a fixed date," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Washington Post. (NYSE:WPO)

Under an original draft of the accord, U.S. troops would withdraw from Iraq's main cities by the end of 2009 and from the country by 2011, but any pullout would be subject to prevailing security conditions. The Iraqi change would call for U.S. troop withdrawal from the country within 36 months from the agreement's implementation.

U.S. combat troops should end unilateral operations by June, Dabbagh said, and the status of forces pact should direct that the vast majority of U.S. troops be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

"U.S. troops should be secluded to known camps," Dabbagh said. "The Americans would be called whenever there is a need. Their movement would be limited."

Iraqi officials see President-elect Barack Obama's views on a U.S. withdrawal as consistent with their own.

Dabbagh told the Post negotiations to reach an agreement will collapse if a deal isn't reached by the end of November and called for both sides to return to the table.

A White House spokeswoman said Thursday U.S. officials responded to Iraqi officials with what she called a "final text" of the agreement.


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