Iraqi leaders irked by U.S. security deal

May 27, 2008 at 8:14 PM

BAGHDAD, May 27 (UPI) -- Iraqi lawmakers and top clerical leaders said they are frustrated with the lack of consultation between Baghdad and Washington over future strategic deals.

The U.S. and Iraqi governments started negotiations last year on a Status of Forces Agreement, which legally defines the U.S. military presence in Iraq, and a Strategic Framework Agreement, which lays out broader bilateral agreements.

In November U.S. President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a Declaration of Principles, which permits U.S. military action against "foreign aggression" and "external and internal threats" in Iraq.

But leading voices in the Iraqi government say they are growing concerned because Baghdad and Washington have largely avoided consulting with Iraqi lawmakers and other leaders, the global news agency Inter Press Service reported.

"We have not been informed about the content of the talks in detail so far," Kurdish lawmaker Abdulkhaliq Zangana told IPS. "There is absolutely no way that the Iraqi government can make any such agreements without the consent of the Iraqi Parliament."

Meanwhile, influential Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani told the Iranian Press TV Saturday that he would not permit Iraq to sign a deal outlining a strategic relationship with "the U.S. occupiers" as long as he was alive, and on Tuesday, anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr called for weekly protests against the measure.

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