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U.S., Iraq near security agreement

Oct. 17, 2008 at 7:01 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The United States and Iraq are nearing an agreement on U.S. troops in Iraq and a schedule for their eventual departure, White House officials said.

Aides to congressional members were briefed at the White House, while Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki briefed his national security council in Baghdad, The New York Times reported Friday.

"So we are getting closer to having this agreement worked out," Dana Perino, President George Bush's spokeswoman, said during a news briefing. "So we anticipate being able to hopefully have something soon."

Bush has had to persuade congressional leaders that the accord was a security arrangement, not a mutual security treaty, which could ignite a war, the Times reported.

Another troublesome issue was protection for U.S service personnel from Iraqi law. Language in the draft accord includes provisions that the American military would be subject to the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, at least while they are on duty, sources told the Times.

In Iraq, meanwhile, the agreement must be reviewed by the Cabinet after being studied by the president's security council. After those two reviews, it must be approved by the Iraqi Parliament, where some members dislike the terms, particularly the immunity provisions for U.S. troops.

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