US-Iraq "legal immunity" deadlock

Countries' officials differ about protections for US troops following the US pull-out by December.

    The US and Iraq butt heads as details of the US military withdrawal from the country is finalised [EPA]

    Iraq is weighing its options concerning the future of the US military presence in the country, beyond 2011, when all American troops must pull out under the terms of a bilateral security pact.

    The general secretary of the Iraqi cabinet, Ali al-Alaak, told AFP Monday that this would range from a "limited mission to no US army trainers" in the country whatsoever.

    Alaak's remarks come amid an apparent impasse between Washington and Iraq regarding legal immunity for US troops in Iraq.

    Impasse

    The US is "insisting" that US troops serving beyond the year-end get "legal immunity" while Iraq's political leaders said in a statement, that there is "no need" for such protections.

    At a news conference in Brussels Thursday, Leon Panetta, US Defence Secretary said, "Any kind of US presence demands that we protect and provide the appropriate immunity for our soldiers".

    However, the leaders of the Iraq's main political blocs said that while they agreed on the need for training of Iraqi forces and the purchase of military equipment, they also "agreed that there is no need to give immunity for trainers".

    The Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh issued the statement following a two-hour meeting hosted by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani with the Iraqi political leaders.

    About 43,500 US troops remain in Iraq. All of them must withdraw by the end of the year under the bilateral security accord.

    The bilateral agreement will remain in place if no post-2011 deal is agreed upon.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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