Saturday, August 20, 2011

Iraq rejects US claim of military pact

About 46,000 US troops are still in Iraq (file photo)

Source: Press TV

An aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has denied reports that Baghdad has allowed the US to extend its military presence in the war-torn country beyond 2011.

"We have not yet agreed on the issue of keeping training forces," Ali Mussawi, media advisor to the Iraqi premier, told AFP on Friday.

The remarks came after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed that Iraq has agreed to extend the US military presence in the Middle Eastern country beyond the 2011 deadline. "My view is that they finally did say, 'Yes,'" Panetta said in an interview on Friday.

Mussawi, however, rejected Panetta's remark and explained that "negotiations are ongoing, and these negotiations have not been finalized."

All of the roughly 46,000 US troops must leave Iraq by the end of the year, according to a security agreement reached between the two countries in 2008.

Earlier this month, Iraqi political leaders said that they would open talks about possible extension of the presence of US troops after 2011 for a training mission.

Over one million Iraqis have been killed since 2003 in a US-led occupation and massive war against the country, according to the California-based Project Censored.

Washington is currently exerting pressure on Baghdad in line with its plan to keep thousands of its troops in the war-ravaged country beyond December 31, 2011.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen recently paid an unannounced visit to Baghdad to lobby Iraqi officials about the extension of American military presence in the country.

He also called on Iraqi officials to grant immunity to American forces in the country against any legal prosecution, which would, in effect, allow them to freely abuse their military power and commit offenses without consequences.

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