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Immunity issue scuttled US troop deal: Iraq PM

Last Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 23:06

Baghdad: Iraq`s Prime Minister said on Saturday
that US troops are leaving Iraq after nearly nine years of war
because Baghdad rejected American demands that any US military
forces to stay would have to be shielded from prosecution or
lawsuits.

The comments by Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, made clear
that it was Iraq who refused to let the US military remain
under the Americans` terms.

A day earlier, President Barack Obama had hailed the
troops` withdrawal as the result of his commitment, promised
shortly after taking office in 2009, to end the war that he
once described as "dumb."

"When the Americans asked for immunity, the Iraqi side
answered that it was not possible," al-Maliki told reporters
in Baghdad.

"The discussions over the number of trainers and the
place of training stopped. Now that the issue of immunity was
decided and that no immunity to be given, the withdrawal has
started."

Nearly 40,000 US troops remain in Iraq, all of whom will
withdraw by Dec 31, a deadline set in a 2008 security
agreement between Baghdad and Washington.

But continued violence across Iraq, coupled with growing
influence by the Shiite power Iran over the government in
Baghdad, prompted the Obama administration earlier this year
to push to keep thousands of US troops here for years to come.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 23:06

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