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U.S., Iraq both hope security deal reached

Nov. 14, 2008 at 7:15 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. officials hope they soon can reach a long-term security agreement with Iraq concerning U.S. troops, the U.S. State Department said Friday.

"We certainly hope to get that deal. We think it's a good agreement," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said during a news briefing. "And the Iraqis will have to take it through their political process."

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has urged U.S. officials to accept Iraqi amendments to the "status of forces" agreement. Government officials said Talabani told U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker that he supports Iraq's modifications to the plan.

The draft calls for U.S. forces to leave Iraqi cities by June 30 and combat troops to be gone by the end of 2011, unless the Iraqi government asks them to stay. Issues of concern include the schedule for troop withdrawal, provisions for Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel and control over military operations.

The long-term agreement, which must be approved by the Iraqi Parliament, is necessary because a U.N. mandate covering U.S. forces in Iraq expires at the end of 2008.

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