Contextual Content

US and Iraq set pullout date

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Thursday that a broad document setting out the nature of any future US troop presence and of Washington-Baghdad relations is close to fruition, but not yet complete. A key part of the draft agreement envisions the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq by December 2011, a date further in the future than the Iraqis initially wanted.
Rice was reported to have been pessimistic talking to reporters on route from Washington and she displayed similar caution at the news conference with Zebari after talks with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
According to a Washington Post report: ‘The question of immunity for US troops and Defense Department personnel from Iraqi legal jurisdiction — demanded by Washington and rejected by Baghdad — remained unresolved. Troop immunity, one US official said, "is the red line for us."’
The Post article also added:
“The deal would leave tens of thousands of US troops inside Iraq in supporting roles, such as military trainers, for an unspecified time.”
There are now about 144-thousand US troops in Iraq.
Zebari said the pact which US and Iraqi officials are trying to finish will be presented to Iraq’s Executive Council for review, and must then be ratified by the Iraqi Parliament.
But followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who control 30 of the 275 seats in parliament, criticized Rice’s visit and repeated their opposition to the security agreement.

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Story Transcript

US Iraq set pullout date?

Producer: Carlo Basilone

CARLO BASILONE (VOICEOVER): US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Thursday that a broad document setting out the nature of any future US troop presence and of Washington-Baghdad relations is close to fruition but not yet complete. A key part of the draft agreement envisions the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq by December 2011, a date further in the future than the Iraqis initially wanted.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, US SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States, I think, has shown great flexibility. I think the Iraqis have shown great flexibility. And this is an excellent—it will be an excellent agreement when we finally have agreement. And I just want to emphasize we’ll have agreement when we have agreement.

HOSHYOAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: There has been a great deal of progress, in fact. Secretary Rice’s meeting this morning with the prime minister was positive. And we are very close to finalize this important agreement for Iraq, for the region, and for the friendship and the partnership of Iraq and the United States.

BASILONE: Rice was reported to have been pessimistic talking to reporters on route from Washington, and she displayed similar caution at the news conference with Zebari after talks with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. According to a Washington Post report, ‘The question of immunity for U.S. troops and Defense Department personnel from Iraqi legal jurisdiction—demanded by Washington and rejected by Baghdad—remained unresolved. Troop immunity, one official said, ‘is the red line for us.’" The Post article also added: “The deal would leave tens of thousands of US troops inside Iraq in supporting roles, such as military trainers, for an unspecified time.” (August 22, 2008) There are now about 144,000 US troops in Iraq. Zebari said the pact which US and Iraqi officials are trying to finish will be presented to Iraq’s Executive Council for review, and must then be ratified by the Iraqi Parliament. But followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who control 30 of the 275 seats in Parliament, criticized Rice’s visit and repeated their opposition to the security agreement.

LIWA SIMAISIM, HEAD OF POLITICAL COMMITTEE OF THE SADRIST (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We, the Sadrist movement, denounce this dubious visit and in this particular time. We affirm our principled stand which rejects the long-term agreement. We demand the government of Iraq and the top officials does not sign this unjust agreement. We also demand occupation forces to pull out as soon as possible.

BASILONE: AFP reported that thousands of al-Sadr supporters protested against the agreement on Friday. One banner carried by protesters said, "The suspicious agreement means eternal bondage." An AFP correspondent reported that the crowd shouted, "We will not allow Iraq to be an American colony."

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