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Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani rejects SOFA

  |   July 8, 2008 at 4:19 PM
NAJAF, Iraq, July 8 (UPI) -- Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani Tuesday rejected the security deal between Iraq and the United States on the grounds it violates Iraqi sovereignty.

Sistani met in Najaf with Iraqi national security adviser Muwafaq al-Rubaie to receive updates on the progress of the status of forces agreement set to replace the U.N. mandate for Iraq, which expires this year.

The revered cleric said Iraq should not accept a security arrangement that justifies the illegal occupation of the U.S. military, Alalam news said.

Sistani in June outlined a series of conditions necessary for Iraq to entertain the agreements with the United States.

Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim relayed the four points Sistani said preconditioned any long-term security arrangement.

"The cleric stressed that any long-term pact in Iraq should maintain four key terms including safeguarding Iraqis' interests, national sovereignty, national consensus and being presented to the Iraqi Parliament for approval," Hakim said.

Hakim said the draft framework is a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and does little to remove Iraq from the Chapter VII U.N. Charter authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

Sistani's declaration Tuesday follows a statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki saying the status of forces agreement must include a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Iraqi lawmakers Tuesday said the measure likely would not pass in Parliament if U.S. troops receive immunity from Iraqi law under the agreement.

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