Baghdad and Washington are close to finalising a pact outlining the conditions of a future US military presence in Iraq after the current UN resolution finishes at the end of the year.
BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki submitted a final draft of a security agreement with the United States to political leaders for review on Wednesday, after months of negotiations with Washington.
"The agreement on the temporary presence of troops and their withdrawal has been distributed today to the members of the political council for national security, which will meet on Friday to discuss the draft," Maliki's spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters.
"The government decided that the draft should take its constitutional path through the cabinet and parliament," he added. "It's the first step ... for Iraqi politicians to discuss and to decide finally their stance on the agreement."
The remarks suggest Baghdad and Washington are close to finally unveiling details of the security pact, which they have been hammering out for months.
The bilateral pact will replace a U.N. Security Council resolution authorising U.S. troops to remain in Iraq, which expires at the end of this year.
The deal has been held up so far while the two sides discuss issues such as whether and under what circumstances U.S. troops can be tried in Iraqi court.
The political council for security includes leaders of Iraq's main parties, whom Maliki has pledged to consult before referring the pact to a vote by his cabinet.
Naseer al-Ani, chief of staff of President Jalal Talabani, said a copy of the draft would also be circulated to the cabinet later on Wednesday.
If the cabinet and the council approve the pact, the government has said it will submit it to parliament for a vote.
Date created : 2008-10-16