Iraq or US can terminate long-term agreement – US official


Baghdad : Senior advisor to the US Secretary of State, David Satterfield has emphasized that the US’ long-term strategic agreement with Iraq is based on total respect for Iraq’s sovereignty.

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The bilateral talks regarding that agreement are not one-sided and they do not involve the US arm-twisting Iraq to do what Iraq does not like, he said at a press conference here Tuesday.

The talks seek to arrive at a meaningful partnership between Iraq and the US in a way that would enable Iraq to defend itself as a sovereign nation, he said, adding that the long-term agreement would include a clause that would give the option to either side to back out of it, if necessary.

He stressed that the US would not want for Iraq to be a launching pad for attacks on other states in the region, but he cautioned these states to heed Iraq’s sovereignty and independence.

Asked if there was any connection between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Iran and the talks over the long-term US-Iraq agreement, Satterfield said the US was negotiating the agreement with Iraq, not with any other entity including Iran.

He revealed that heading the Iraqi side to the talks was Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh and the US side, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

Satterfield said that end of July was an appropriate time for the negotiations to conclude.

With regard to the fate of Iraqi funds held in the US in the event that the talks failed, he said the funds would be protected and Iraq would be their sole owner.

While he underscored that both the US and Iraq were dedicated to the signing of the long-term agreement, he also hinted that any agreement signed now would be honoured by the new US administration later on.

Iraq, he said, was among 80 partners the US has signed agreements with, adding that the US favoured a stable Iraq with a viable regional and international role and a policy of being a US ally in the fight against terrorism.

On the possibility of resuming a US-Iraq-Iran dialogue, Satterfield said it might be possible but that no plans were laid for such a dialogue at the current juncture.