Radical cleric asks Iraq not to sign security deal with USJuly 31st, 2008 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS
Baghdad, July 31 (Xinhua) Iraq’s radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Thursday urged the government not to sign security deal that set a framework for the US troops’ presence in the country after 2008. “I call on the Iraqi government not to sign the security agreement with the United States and I confirm that I am ready to support the government publicly and politically if it doesn’t sign,” Sadr said in a statement obtained by Xinhua.
Iraq and the US have been engaged in negotiations about the future status of the US troops in Iraq after the UN mandate ends at this year’s end. The two sides have expected to complete a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the end of July.
Sadr’s call came when the deadline is approaching. He also called on Iraqis “to unify so that they can stand up against the security agreement, in political and peaceful ways.”
Early in the month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki brought himself closer to Sadr’s earlier demands to put a timetable for foreign troops withdrawal from the country, when he said Iraq was seeking a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.
“The current trend is to reach either a memorandum of understanding for the departure of the troops, or a memorandum of understanding for setting a timetable for its withdrawal,” Maliki told reporters July 7 during his visit to the United Arab Emirates.