US 'close' to Iraq military deal

Pact to seal details of long term US presence but official denies seeking permanent bases.

    Muqtada al-Sadr has called for protests unless the
    government abandons the deal [AFP]

    And last week Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shia cleric, also reportedly expressed his anger, saying he would not permit the Iraqi government to sign a deal with "US occupiers" as long as he lived.

    'No need' for bases

    David Satterfield, a senior adviser on Iraq at the US state department, told Al Jazeera that the agreement would make explicit that the US was not seeking permanent military bases in the country.

     

    "T

    he Sofa agreement and the strategic frameworks agreement will make explicit that there is no desire for, indeed there is a rejection of permanent bases. We could not be clearer on this point," he said.

     

    "We do not believe that there is a need for such bases."

     

    Satterfield said that the US was conducting the negotiations with representatives of all the main leaders in Iraq.

     

    Samir al-Sumaida'ie, the Iraqi ambassador to the US, said the agreement was not intended to "tie the hands of any future government in Iraq or any future administration in the US".

     

    "Our obligation to our people is to protect their interests, the obligation of the US government is to protect the Americans"

    Samir al-Sumaida'ie, Iraqi ambassador to the US

    "It's a matter of the current need of Iraq," he said.
     
    "Our obligation to our people is to protect their interests, the obligation of the US government is to protect the Americans.


    "Where these interests coincide, then we can reach agreement."

     

    Any prospective agreement can also be terminated two years after either party decides to do so, al-Sumaida'ie said.

     

    However, in the US, the House of Representatives has adopted a bipartisan amendment requiring congressional approval for any proposed military accord with Iraq.

     

    The move could prevent George Bush, the US president, from approving the deal only months before leaving office.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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