BAGHDAD – Iraq expects Washington's reply on proposed changes to a draft security agreement after the U.S. elections, an aide to the prime minister said Sunday.
Yassin Majeed said the U.S. will respond to Iraq's amendments to the pact after Tuesday's elections so the new president-elect can be informed of the status of the talks.
Since May, U.S. and Iraqi officials have been trying to hammer out a new security agreement by the end of the year that would keep U.S. troops in the country until 2011.
The current draft calls for all U.S. forces to leave by Dec. 31, 2011 unless Iraq asks them to stay. It also gives Iraqi courts limited jurisdiction over U.S. troops accused of major crimes committed off post and off duty.
But the pact faces opposition from Iraqi lawmakers, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet is pressing for changes in the draft text before submitting it to parliament for approval.
Al-Maliki wants more jurisdiction over U.S. troops and guarantees that Iraqi territory will not be used by the U.S. to launch attacks on neighboring countries. Baghdad also wants to remove language that could allow the U.S. to stay beyond the end of 2011.
Without a new agreement, the U.S. would have to suspend all security and assistance operations in the country by the end of the year when the current pact expires.
Iraqi authorities are feeling more confident since a sharp drop in violence in the country after the Sunni revolt against Al Qaeda and the routing of Shiite militias in Baghdad and southern Iraq last spring.
Still, attacks continue, although at a lower level, and U.S. officials warn the gains are reversible.
Also Sunday, the U.S. military said it killed two insurgents near Tal Afar, some 260 miles (420 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, and detained 11 suspected militants in other operations targeting Al Qaeda in Iraq across the country.