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."

 

New government in Yemen plus cut in fuel prices

11 Egypt policemen killed in Sinai bomb blast

US army back in Somalia

Paris, Riyadh 'finalising' $3bn Lebanon arms deal

Sudan orders Iran to close cultural centres

Syria arrests pro-regime activists over criticism

Libya pro-Islamist figure presents rival cabinet lineup

Israel faces mounting criticism over Palestinian land grab

Saudi Arabia arrests 88 suspected extremists in 'anti-terror' drive

New UN chief for South Sudan faces ‘huge challenge’

US air strikes target senior Shebab officials in Somalia

‘Scourge of terrorism’ pushes Africa to intensify cooperation

Relatives of missing Iraq soldiers storm parliament in Baghdad

IS accused of 'systematic ethnic cleansing' in Iraq

UK announces tougher measures against Britons planning jihad

Algeria hosts new round of Mali peace talks

US launches new round of air strikes around Iraq dam

Turkey summons US charge d'affaires over Snowden claims

Turkey new PM promises peace with Kurds

Will UN Human Rights Council investigate IS abuses?

Iran convicts Ahmadinejad's vice president for embezzlement

Fierce clashes shatter uneasy calm near armistice line in Golan Heights

Turkey detains dozens of police in new nationwide raids

Libya loses control of Tripoli to Islamist-led militias

Thousands of Huthis defy UN in new show of strength

Iraq presses fightback against jihadist-led militants

Wounded Gazans need long-term care

Britain to go tougher on jihadist suspects

Libyan Islamist militiamen control US embassy compound

Israel shoots down drone over occupied Golan Heights

Yemen army suffers heavy losses in new wave of Qaeda attacks

Turkish army breaks silence on Kurdish peace talks

Islamic State offers grim inspiration to African extremists

Shebab target intelligence HQ in Somalia

Israel expropriates 988 acres of Palestinian land in West Bank

Iraq recaptures Amerli from Islamic State in biggest success so far

Saudi King calls for ‘strong and rapid action’ against jihadists

Jihadists distribute Yazidi women as spoils of war to fighters

Gulf countries resolve six-month dispute with Qatar

Egypt reduces Badie death sentence to life in prison

AU forces liberate former Shebab stronghold in Somalia

Philippines enters war in Syria!

Kurds put aside old rivalries to battle jihadists in Iraq

Iran says new sanctions cast doubt on US sincerity

US imposes new sanctions on Iran