BAGHDAD – U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have agreed on a draft of a security pact that would allow American troops to stay in Iraq for three more years, after their U.N. mandate expires Dec. 31, a senior aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday.
Also Saturday, 10 Iraqis died and 20 were wounded in a suicide car bombing in the northern city of Tal Afar, the U.S. military said. Tal Afar is near the volatile city of Mosul and has been the site of several recent bombings. The latest attack highlighted the continuing threat to security in Iraq despite a sharp drop in violence since last year.
The aide said the draft agreement could be put to a Cabinet vote in an emergency meeting Sunday or Monday. Transport Minister Amir Abdul-Jabbar said he had been notified by the Cabinet secretariat that a Cabinet meeting was scheduled for Sunday to vote on the agreement. If adopted by the Cabinet, it would then require parliamentary approval.
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe described the final document on the security pact as beneficial to the allied nations.
"We think this is a good document that serves both Iraqis and Americans well. We remain hopeful that the Iraqi government will conclude this process soon," Johndroe said Saturday.
The al-Maliki aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the agreement stood "a good chance" of being passed by a two-thirds majority in the 37-member Cabinet.
"I can say now that the two sides have agreed on a final draft," the aide said.