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US, Iraq Agree to Principles for Future Relationship


The United States and Iraq have spelled out basic principles for a future bilateral relationship as a first step to normalizing ties between Washington and Baghdad. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, the declaration, issued Monday, envisions a long term U.S. security commitment in Iraq after a United Nations mandate for multinational troops expires.

The document outlines the foundations for future U.S. - Iraqi ties regarding security, economic, and political matters. Titled the "U.S.-Iraqi Declaration of Principles for Friendship and Cooperation," it is intended to guide next year's planned negotiations on the relationship between the two countries.

Before those negotiations proceed, Iraq will ask the United Nations to renew the annual mandate for multinational troops for one final year.

The White House says President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the declaration during a teleconference. An adviser to President Bush on the war in Iraq, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, says the document reflects the two leaders' common belief that a long term relationship is in both nations' interests.

The declaration sets forth a U.S. commitment to support Iraq's democratic institutions, to promote its economic and financial well-being, and to support its security forces. Specifically, the United States remains committed to training and equipping Iraq's police and military, to combat terrorism, and to help safeguard Iraq from foreign threats to its territory.

The document does not spell out a specific long term U.S. troop presence in Iraq, but such an arrangement is widely expected to be a cornerstone of the future U.S.-Iraqi relationship. President Bush has repeatedly stated that he envisions a need to keep some level of American military presence in Iraq after he leaves office in January, 2009. The White House notes that the United has security arrangements with more than 100 other nations spanning the globe, including recent agreements with Afghanistan and former Soviet bloc countries.

Both Iraq and the United States stress that the document is not a binding treaty, but rather a set of common principles that will guide future negotiations. It is hoped that a final agreement will be hammered out by the middle of next year.

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