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Iraq seeks security pact revisions
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Tuesday Oct 21st, 2008 8:12 AM
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 : Cabinet to discuss amendments with Washington before putting deal to parliament.

Iraq's cabinet has said it will seek changes to a planned security deal with the US that would keep American troops in the country for another three years.

"The cabinet unanimously sought amendments to the text of the pact so it can be acceptable nationally,"Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, said on Tuesday.

Cabinet members will now continue to debate the details of the security pact, passing suggestions to the American negotiating team.

The pact, scrutinised by ministers on Tuesday, is hugely controversial in Iraq and attracted fierce opposition from politicians and other key figures in the region, including Muqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shia leader.

Many Iraqi politicians are also sceptical of effectively approving the presence of US troops in the country, alongside concerns that Baghdad should have more control over a foreign force that has previously operated outside Iraqi law.

Political differences

Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, acknowledged that parliament was "unlikely" to approve the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) before the US presidential elections on November 4.

"Because of the differences among the political groups, we don't believe the deal will be approved now. Iraq still hopes to sign this deal before the end of the year,' he said.

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