Iraq seeks alternatives for SOFA:newspaper 2008-10-25 16:54:18   Print

    BAGHDAD, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi government and some major political parties are looking to alternatives if an agreement designed for prolonged U.S. military presence misses the year-end deadline, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Saturday.

    "The government and top politicians are considering alternatives in case the U.S. and Iraq fail to agree on the security deal before Dec. 21, when the recess of the UN's Security Council starts," the official al-Sabah newspaper said.

    The paper said that Iraqi top political leaders would discuss three scenarios during a meeting slated this week, which also would coincide with a decisive meeting of the cabinet.

    "The three scenarios would be a call for an extension of UN mandate, signing an alternative temporary agreement between Baghdad and Washington, or the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2009,"the paper quoted Muhammad Naji, a lawmaker from the ruling Shiite alliance, as saying.

    However, Naji said "the call for the U.S. troops to withdraw in2009 is the last option among the three."

    Naji also insisted that Iraq "would not pay the menu" for the U.S., given Iraq's all respect to the U.S. role in toppling Saddam Hussein and fighting for the security and stability of Iraq.

    "Baghdad has also given a lot to Washington, particularly, fighting Qaida militant who came from Afghanistan and made our country a battle field," Naji said.

    According to sources who spoke anonymously to al-Sabah, "the Iraqi government would announce on Sunday or Monday its suggested amendments on four or five points in the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA)."

    The two countries are at odds over the agreement, which the U.S. needs as a legitimate support for the station of its troops beyond2009 after the current UN mandate ends on Dec. 31.

    Most of major Iraqi political blocs have raised objections to some points of the draft agreement.

    A withdrawal timetable and immunity for the U.S. military personnel have been among the most contested issues.

Editor: Du Guodong
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