Rice says Iraqi vote won't necessarily stall pact

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says an Iraqi proposal to hold a national referendum next year on a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement does not necessarily mean the pact will be put off.

Rice was speaking at a State Department news conference after reports from Baghdad indicated the likelihood that Shiite and Kurdish members of the parliament would accept a Sunni Arab proposal to hold a referendum. The Sunnis have said they would support the security pact if it was put to a nationwide vote next year.

Rice said she had spoken to American Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Baghdad and that her understanding is that the referendum process would not delay implementation of the security pact, which calls for all U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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