Parliament starts to consider security pact

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's parliament has been given an initial reading of a U.S.-Iraqi security pact, which is headed for a final vote a week from today.

If it's approved, it then goes to Iraq's president and his two deputies for ratification.

The agreement allows U.S. forces to stay in Iraq through 2011. But it requires that they leave Iraq's cities by June 30th, in recognition of an improved security climate. That deadline poses a test for Iraq's own forces, in places like Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, where there are still daily attacks.

Under the agreement, U.S. forces must give Iraqi authorities broad powers over the operations and movements of the American military.

The deal replaces a U.N. mandate governing the presence of the American forces in Iraq. It expires at the end of this year.

The White House is defending the deal even though it includes a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals. President George W. Bush had long opposed a timetable as a sign of defeat.

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

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