Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Iraq allows British troops to stay - Reuters
Iraq's parliament approved a measure on Tuesday that clears the way for troops from Britain, Australia and a handful of other nations to stay in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires at year's end, a senior lawmaker said.
A vote on the measure was delayed for several days by squabbling in the parliament, whose speaker resigned just before Tuesday's vote after angering some politicians with his brash style and insults in a session last week.
"We authorize the government to take all necessary steps regarding foreign forces other than U.S. forces," said deputy parliamentary speaker Khalid al-Attiya. He said the measure approved would allow the troops to stay in Iraq through the end of July 2009.
Forces from Britain, Australia, El Salvador, Romania and Estonia and NATO have been awaiting a new arrangement to legalize their presence in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires in little over a week.
Lawmakers said the resolution empowered the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to strike a deal with these countries permitting their troops to stay, without that deal having to go back to parliament for further scrutiny.
"What happened today is parliament giving its authorization to the government to make such a deal," legislator Jaber Habeeb Jaber told Reuters.
He added parliament could do this because the likely agreement sought by the government would be a memorandum of understanding rather than a full blown pact or treaty.
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