Iraq and the United States have finally agreed on a security pact which would mean that US forces would withdraw from Iraq by 2011, American and Iraqi officials said yesterday.
The accord became a major test of strength between the Iraqi government and Washington since negotiations began in March with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, pictured below, demanding US concessions on the date of the troop withdrawal and immunity for US troops. The pact replaces the UN Security Council resolution enacted after the American invasion of 2003.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the council of Iraqi leaders, the cabinet and the Iraqi parliament. Mr Maliki saw the highly influential Shia religious leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, last week and was assured that he would not stand in the way of the pact if approved by parliament.