An agreement, allowing the US to operate in Iraq beyond this year, includes that they must provide a “clear timeline” to withdraw its troops, said on Sunday Hoshiyar Zebari (photo, from pukmedia.com), Iraq’s foreign minister.
His comments are the strongest public assertion yet that Iraq is demanding a timeline for US withdrawal.
Mr Zebari has been quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying an agreement, including the timeline, was “very close” and would probably be presented to the Iraqi parliament in early September.
Although setting a timeline for withdrawal as long been resisted by George W. Bush, the US president, in July the White House began speaking of a general “time horizon” and “aspirational goals” to withdraw.
As Iraq has become safer, the country’s leaders have turned more confident of their ability to provide security, even though Mr Zebari’s comments came when at least 11 people, including a US soldier, have been killed by fighting and bomb attacks.
The US military said that their soldier and four other people were killed in Tarmiya, 25km north of Baghdad, in an attack involving a roadside bomb, a suicide bomber and small arms fire.
In the fighting, two US soldiers, three Iraqi policemen and 18 other people were also wounded, it said.
A security source said that in another attack, a suicide attacker blew up a bomb-laden minibus, killing at least three people and wounding 20 others in the town of Khanaqin.
At least six people have been killed, including one Iraqi soldier, and at least 17 others wounded in two separate roadside bomb attacks in Baghdad.
In another roadside bombing, targeting a private security company, at least four people have been wounded.
Iraq has taken an increasingly assertive stance in negotiations with the US despite the violence, after Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister, ordered cracked downs on fighters earlier in the year.
US military commanders say they worry that violence could resume because of a hasty withdrawal.
A dispute over the northern city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by Kurds as the capital of their autonomous homeland, has also paralysed Iraqi politics.
Between the city’s Kurds, Arabs and ethnic Turkmen, the issues threatens to stoke ethnic tensions.
Despite intensive lobbying by the US and UN in order to reach a deal, the quarrel scuppered a law, needed to allow provincial elections across the country.