U.S. pact hits snag as Iraq Shi'ites seek changes
By Peter Graff and Waleed Ibrahim
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A landmark pact to allow U.S. troops to stay in Iraq until 2011 hit its first major political snag on Sunday, with Iraq's ruling Shi'ite parties calling for changes just days after a "final draft" was unveiled.
The draft of the pact was agreed last week after months of difficult negotiations between Baghdad and Washington, and Iraqi officials had previously described it as a final text unlikely to be renegotiated.
But the Shi'ite alliance, which includes Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa Party, said its leaders had reviewed the pact at a meeting on Saturday and were not happy with all of it.
"Beside the positive points that were included in this pact, there are other points that need more time, more discussion, more dialogue and amendments to some articles," the alliance said in a statement.
It did not say what parts of the text gave rise to objections, but said a committee would gather comments on it.
The reservations voiced by Maliki's own alliance are a blow to the prospects of the pact, which needs to be approved in parliament by the end of this year when a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the U.S. mission expires.
Iraqi leaders say they could seek an emergency extension of the U.N. mandate if a bilateral deal is not ready in time.