WORLD> Middle East
Iraq, US eye troops withdrawal by end of 2011
Updated: 2008-08-23 08:57

BAGHDAD -- Iraq and the US negotiators have reached a draft agreement on a proposed withdrawal timetable and other issues on the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2008, CNN reported Friday.

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, who is also Iraq's chief negotiator, told the channel that the US troops would completely pull out by the end of 2011.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) hold a joint news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari (R) in the heavy fortified Green Zone in Baghdad August 21, 2008.  [Agencies]

He also said the US troops would stay clear of Iraqi cities by June 2009.

The US side has been rejecting a specific timetable for pulling out troops, arguing that must depend on the situation on the ground in Iraq.

Iraqi officials have asked for a timeline. And there are voices in the US to shift more troops to Afghanistan where fighting with insurgents is getting grim.

Demonstrators take to the streets in Sadr City to protest the visit of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Baghdad August 21, 2008.[Agencies]

Another thorny issue is whether the US force would be subject to the Iraqi law.

Hamoud said the draft document proposes that the US authority has jurisdiction over its troops while they are in the camps and during operations.

Meanwhile, the US troops facing charges of committing crimes against Iraqi civilians could be put under the Iraqi jurisdiction, he said.

The deal must still be approved by both sides, Hamoud said.

After meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told a press conference that the deal was almost finalized and would be presented to Iraq's leaders for review.

If approved, the agreement still have to clear the parliament, where a bumpy road is expected.

An Iraqi foreign ministry official, who declined to be named, said Friday that a council consisting of Iraqi leaders and heads of major parties would discuss the draft on the day.

Given the timetable, the US still has a leeway to manage to keep its military presence longer.

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