First Published: 2008-02-13

 
US troops to stay in Iraq beyond 2008
 

US Secretary of State, Defense Secretary say 2008 is year of ‘critical transition’ in Iraq.

 

Middle East Online

'We seek to set the basic parameters for US presence in Iraq’

WASHINGTON - US forces will remain in Iraq beyond the end of 2008, but a continued US troop presence will not tie the hands of a future US president, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in a newspaper column Wednesday.

"It is clear ... that US forces will need to operate in Iraq beyond the end of this year for progress in stabilizing Iraq to continue," the top US diplomatic and military officials wrote in The Washington Post.

"The current UN authorization expires at the end of this year, and Iraq has indicated that it will not seek an extension. It would rather have an arrangement that is more in line with what typically governs the relationships between two sovereign nations," Gates and Rice added in their jointly written article ahead of hearings in the House and Senate at which each were to give testimony Wednesday. Gates however cancelled his planned appearance after falling and spraining a shoulder.

Still the two US officials argued that in Washington's view the current year is one of "critical transition" in Iraq.

"To continue the success we have seen in recent months, the Iraqi people and government will continue to need our help. Iraqis have requested a normalized relationship with us, and such a relationship will be part of a foundation ... upon which future US administrations can build," Gates and Rice wrote.

Their comments come ahead of talks bringing together diplomats, security experts and military officials.

"In these negotiations, we seek to set the basic parameters for the US presence in Iraq, including the appropriate authorities and jurisdiction necessary to operate effectively and to carry out essential missions," Rice and Gates wrote.

"In addition, we seek to establish a basic framework for a strong relationship with Iraq, reflecting our shared political, economic, cultural and security interests."

"Nothing to be negotiated will mandate that we continue combat missions. Nothing will set troop levels. Nothing will commit the United States to join Iraq in a war against another country or provide other such security commitments. And nothing will authorize permanent bases in Iraq (something neither we nor Iraqis want)," they added in newspaper article.

"In short, nothing to be negotiated in the coming months will tie the hands of the next commander in chief, whomever he or she may be.

They continued: "Quite the contrary, it will give the president the legal authority to protect our national interest -- and the latitude to chart the next administration's course."

 

Blair calls on West to combat ‘growing’ danger of Islamist extremism

No Qatar ‘concessions’ on end of dispute with fellow Gulf states

Bahrain expels representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Netayahu to Abbas: Does you want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?

Dubai's Emaar posts huge Q1 profit

Witnesses in Morsi trial: Hamas and Hezbollah attacked Egypt prisons

Family of detained Al-Jazeera reporter in Egypt call for his release

Bomb targets convoy of Education Minister in north Iraq

After Ervin scandal, Iran Prisons Chief becomes Head of Justice Department

Egypt FM travels to US as Washington relaxes hold on military aid

US diplomat visits Libya amid political upheaval

Jarba asks Saudi Arabia to increase support for Syria rebels

Better late than never: Erdogan offers condolences over mass WWI killings of Armenians

Hezbollah veto dashes Geagea dreams of presidency

UN aid chiefs make impassionate call for Syria access

Police brigadier general killed in Cairo bomb attack

11 new MERS infections registered in Saudi

EU denounces Syria plans for June 3 election

Iran envoy row fails to make headway at UN

Amnesty: Qatar fails to protect domestic workers

US will deliver 10 Apache choppers to Egypt to counter terrorism

US expresses horror at South Sudan violence

Egypt's next president will have to deal with frustrated workers

Rival Palestinian leaders agree on national unity govt

Jumblatt backs lawmaker Henri Helou for Lebanon presidency

Global chemical watchdog: Syria weapons handover at 86.5 percent

Kerry ‘prefers’ Cold War-like situation to current complex challenges

Israel to call up Christian Arabs for military service

Egypt prosecutors submit new evidence in Jazeera trial

Families of Iran prisoners break silence over abuses at notorious Evin

Lebanon sends rare aid to its territory in Syria

Iran divorce rate increases amid slow population growth

Suspected militant attacks kill four Yemen officers in two days

Distrust casts shadow over South Kordofan peace talks

Ali Tarhuni heads Libya constituent assembly

Washington revisits story of Syria chemical weapons

PM Erdogan to tour Europe for expat presidency votes

Erdogan to May Day protesters: Give up on your hopes of Taksim!

Palestine plays down threat to dismantle PA

South Sudan army battle rebels as insurgents target oil fields

Two Somali MPs shot dead in 24 hours

MERS death toll keeps climbing in Saudi

Court deals blow to US administration on drone attacks

Berber protesters clash anew with Algeria police

US has 'indications' of new chemical attacks in Syria