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Iraq-US Pact in Hot Water
BAGHDAD — Despite months of lengthy negotiations, Iraqi leaders remain at odds over a proposed security pact with the US, with key players having reservations about the impact of the deal on the country's sovereignty.
"One of the main topics that needs to be discussed is the exclusive jurisdiction over US soldiers and contractors," Sheikh Jalal al-Din, a leader of the Shiite Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SSIC), told IslamOnline.net.
A draft of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which lays the legal basis for US troops presence in Iraq after the expiry of the UN mandate by the end of this year, was agreed last week after months of negotiations.
The two governments described the draft as the final agreement that just needed ratification.
However, the ruling United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which includes the SSIC and the Dawa party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, is demanding more changes to the text before endorsing it.
"There are positive points and others need more time to be discussed, and others need modification," the Shiite coalition said in a statement Sunday.
The pact grants Iraqi judicial authorities limited ability to try US troops and contractors for major crimes committed off-duty or off-base.
"We demand that those who committed offenses against our judicial system, be charged by Iraqi court rather than American one," insists Sheikh Jalal al-Din.