An Iraqi government spokesman said they are expecting a US response to proposed changes in a stalled security agreement after the US presidential election on November 4.
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government expects a U.S. response to proposed changes in a security agreement only after Tuesday's presidential election in the United States, a senior official said on Sunday.
"I think the American response on the pact will take some time because they are busy with the elections. I do not expect them to get back to us before Nov. 4," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
The war in Iraq has taken a backseat to the economy as Americans prepare to choose on Tuesday between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. But the future of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq hangs in the balance as U.S. and Iraqi officials struggle to conclude the pact, which would govern the U.S. troop presence after a U.N. mandate expires at year's end.
Both countries are under pressure to conclude the agreement, which would allow U.S. troops to stay in Iraq through 2011, and avoid the politically unpalatable alternative of seeking another extension to the U.N. mandate.
Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Saturday that he was expecting U.S. officials to respond within days to Iraq's proposals to amend the pact.
After months of negotiations, the deal appeared close to complete until Iraqi officials requested amendments including greater Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops and guarantees that U.S. troops would not launch attacks into other countries.
The last point took on greater importance for Iraq following a U.S. raid last week into Syria close to the Iraqi border.
Some of Iraq's neighbours, such as Iran, oppose the U.S. security pact, a fact that has made embracing the pact a difficult proposition for Iraqi politicians close to Tehran.
After the content of a deal is finalized by both Washington and Baghdad, it must also be backed by the Iraqi parliament.
Dabbagh said that he was hopeful the pact would go ahead if the United States approved the amendments.
Date created : 2008-11-02