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Iraqi Officials Present Draft Compromise on Status of US Troops

By VOA News

Iraqis officials say they have come up with a draft agreement requiring U.S. troops to leave by 2011, unless asked to stay longer.

Government authorities said Wednesday they have also come up with a compromise on the immunity of U.S. personnel serving in Iraq. The draft would give the U.S. jurisdiction over servicemen and women on duty, but Iraq would try any U.S. personnel suspected of crimes committed while off duty.

The draft, to replace the U.N. mandate on foreign forces that expires at the end of December, has yet to be approved by Iraqi lawmakers or the American side.

Also Wednesday, the Iraq government criticized the commander of U.S. forces for accusing Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers to undermine the agreement. A government spokesman dismissed General Ray Odierno's comments, reported Monday in the Washington Post, as "inappropriate."

A U.S. military spokesman today clarified Odierno's remarks saying they in no way were meant to imply that any Iraqi government official accepted bribes.

On Wednesday, Iran's ambassador to Iraq dismissed the accusations. Hassan Kazemi-Qomi also said Iran is ready for another round of discussions with Iraqi and U.S. officials on trilateral relations. He said Iran is waiting for the other two sides to say when the next meeting will be.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Wednesday that he was unaware of any Iranian request for a three-way meeting before being asked by VOA about Kazemi-Qomi's comments.

On Wednesday, Spokesman Sean McCormack was asked about a report the U.S. next month would announce the opening of an U.S. interests section in Iran. He called it an interesting idea, adding that Washington is "always looking for ways to reach out to the Iranian people." But he said he did not have any announcement at this point.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 10/16/08 ... --

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