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."

 

Yemen warring parties 'closer' to agreement

Major assaults target IS jihadists in Iraq, Syria

Juncker warns Ankara against migrant deal threats

New Afghan Taliban leader named

Annual Jewish pilgrimage starts in Tunisia

Concern for civilians trapped in Iraq's Fallujah

Brent rises past $50 a barrel

Iraq PM urges protesters to stay home

Israeli air force carries out strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza

Sudan accuses UN official of 'false' reports on displaced

Egypt quashes prison sentences for 47 protesters

At least 5 drown off Libya coast

Coalition airstrike kills six Yemen civilians 'by mistake'

Erdogan chairs first meeting of new Turkey cabinet

Pope prays to 'convert hearts' of ISIS extremists

Egypt expels French journalist amid crackdown on media

Israeli rights group gives up on army complaints system

Hamas-led council backs executions without Abbas approval

Netanyahu forms ultra-nationalist Israel government

Syrian base used by Russia damaged in IS attack

Kurdish, Arab forces announce anti-IS offensive north of Syria's Raqa

Palestinian PM dismisses Netanyahu proposal

Israel PM's travel expenses under scrutiny

EgyptAir victims' relatives give samples for DNA tests

Iran sends new delegation to Saudi for hajj talks

Hardline cleric elected head of Iran's Assembly of Experts

Civilians trapped as Fallujah siege tightens

Iraq's Fallujah offensive draws attention from embattled PM

Turkey incoming PM unveils cabinet

US, Russia scramble to save Syria truce

Libyan coastguards intercept 550 bound for Europe

Campus bomb kills two in Yemen's Sanaa

Saudi soldier killed in landmine blast on Yemen border

Over 148 killed in IS bombings in Syria regime heartland

Iraq forces battle IS jihadists to retake Fallujah

Erdogan advisor says Turkey could suspend EU deals

Iraq launches military operation to retake Fallujah

Oil prices dip as Iran says no to output freeze

Skepticism ahead of Istanbul humanitarian summit

Sudan steps up pressure for exit of Darfur peacekeepers

UN Palestinian agency says half its schools hit by conflict

Bombs kill more than 120 in Syria regime strongholds

Netanyahu rejects French peace initiative

Gunmen kill 8 worshipers in Darfur

India in deal to turn Iran port into trade hub