Maliki's party wants U.S. troops to leave

July 15, 2011 at 11:02 AM
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BAGHDAD, July 15 (UPI) -- The Dawa Party in Iraq is committed to the terms of the bilateral status of forces agreement that calls for U.S. troops to leave by December, a member said.

The remaining 40,000 or so troops in Iraq are to leave Iraq by Dec. 31 under the terms of a 2008 SOFA.

Haider al-Abadi, a spokesman for the Dawa Party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said there was no reason to break the agreement.

"There exists another phase for cooperation with the Americans in the economic, educational and reconstruction fields, away from the military aspect," he told the Voices of Iraq news agency. "The presence of the American forces must be supported by a general Iraqi position, thing that is far away from the political status-quo at the present phase."

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a recent visit to Iraq had strong words for Baghdad regarding the security agreement. Iraq would need to request an extension in order for U.S. troops to stay beyond Dec. 31. Lawmakers have yet to agree on a complete Cabinet more than a year after parliamentary elections.

Washington has proposed about 10,000 troops stay behind.

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