BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq is still waiting for a response from the United States to proposals regarding the controversial security deal between the two countries, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said on Thursday.
“Talks are in the final stage and the Iraqi side is waiting for the American side to provide answers on several points which the Iraqi government has raised,” Saleh told reporters in the holy city of Najaf.
Saleh spoke after meeting revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
“This is a dangerous patriotic decision and we want the government to guarantee the sovereignty of Iraq,” Saleh said.
Earlier Thursday Shiite MP Ali al-Adeeb also said the Iraqi negotiators were waiting for the response from Washington on their objections over the pact which will decide the future of US forces in the country.
Last week Adeeb told AFP that Washington had asked for 10 days late last month to come up with a response to Iraq’s proposals. That grace period has lapsed.
US embassy officials in Baghdad were not immediately available for comment.
The sticking points are the questions of whether American soldiers will have immunity from Iraqi law, who will lead combat missions and whether US personnel may detain Iraqis.
The Iraqis insist American soldiers must be prosecuted in Iraq if they commit “grave intentional mistakes,” something Washington is not agreeing to, officials close to the negotiations said.
The proposed pact will decide the future presence of American forces in Iraq after the December 31 expiry of a UN mandate, which is the current legal basis for their deployment.
American troops are expected to withdraw from Iraqi cities in June. The draft gives no final date for a complete withdrawal, which Iraqi negotiators have told AFP will take place by the end of 2011.