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U.S. and Iraq scale back security deal plans

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Dean Yates
day, July 13, 2008

U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have ended efforts to reach a formal security pact before President George W. Bush leaves office in favor of an interim deal, the Washington Post said on Sunday, citing senior U.S. officials.

The two sides had been negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement that would provide a legal basis for U.S. troops to remain when a U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.

But in the past week Iraqi leaders have spoken of only agreeing what they call a memorandum of understanding. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has also raised for the first time the prospect of setting a timetable for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

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The Washington Post quoted one U.S. official close to the negotiations as saying “we are talking about dates”, even though Bush has previously rebuffed calls for a timetable.

Iraq is a major issue in November’s presidential election battle between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. McCain supports the Bush administration’s current strategy, while Obama has called for a timetable for withdrawal.

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This article was posted: Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 5:25 am

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