Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Iraq on Wednesday
criticized remarks made by U.S. military chief Michael Mullen in which he warned
Iraqi government of "significant consequences" if it fails to sign U.S. security
"Deeply concerned, the Iraqi government received the
comments of Admiral Michael Mullen," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh
said in a statement.
"These comments are not welcomed by Iraq. All Iraqis
and their political parties are aware of their responsibilities and they know
how important to sign or not to sign the deal in a way that it is suitable to
them," Dabbagh said.
Mullen asserted that if the current UN mandate
expires by the end of 2008, Iraqi security forces "will not be ready to provide
for their security. And in that regard there is great potential for losses of
"We are clearly running out of time," said Mullen.
The long-delayed agreement, that would allow U.S.
troops to stay in Iraq beyond the UN mandate, has raised objections among
various Iraqi factions, including the ruling Shiite one.
On Sunday, the largest political bloc in the
parliament, the Unified Iraqi Alliance (UIA), raised issue with a draft of the
agreement, when Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Dawa Party is part
of UIA, reviewed the current draft with top leaders of the alliance and said
changes still needed to be made in order to guarantee Iraq's sovereignty and the
interests of its people.
The draft said that the U.S. troops would leave Iraq
by Dec. 31,2011. The deal also allow Iraqi courts to prosecute American service
members in case of accusing them of serious crimes while off duty.