Sadr urges unity on U.S. security deal

May 28, 2008 at 5:24 PM

BAGHDAD, May 28 (UPI) -- A spokesman for Moqtada Sadr said the Shiite cleric urged solidarity from all Iraqis ahead of a security deal between the United States and Iraq.

Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi said a statement released Tuesday by the cleric calling for weekly protests against the series of security deals extending the U.S. presence in Iraq beyond 2008 was a warning to the government, not a threat, Al-Alam said.

"(Sadr) warns that only the government must take responsibility for such a decision," Obeidi said.

The spokesman also said Sadr urged all political parties and the people of Iraq "to adopt a unified stance toward the future Iraqi government and how to contribute to it."

Any future relationship with the United States could, however, be made through a vote in the Iraqi Parliament, Obeidi said.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi National Security Council, headed by President Jalal Talabani, called on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to pursue a deal that was in the spirit of the national interest.

There has been no official word on the issue from Iraqi religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, but his aides said the revered cleric supports discussing the matter in a public forum.

"If the majority of the people accept it, then they should go ahead," an aide said.

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