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Iraqi Official: Failure to Pass US Security Pact Will Hurt Economy


Iraq's finance minister has warned parliament that failure to approve a U.S.-Iraqi security pact would endanger the Iraqi economy.

Bayan Jabr said Sunday that Iraq needs the security pact to ensure that its reconstruction funds remain protected by the United States and United Nations.

Most of Iraq's income comes from oil revenues held in a special account that has international protection from lawsuits against Baghdad. The account, known as the Development Fund for Iraq, currently holds around $20 billion.

Finance Minister Jabr says international protection for the fund will expire in January if Iraqi lawmakers do not approve the U.S-Iraqi agreement.

Iraq's parliament is expected to vote on the security pact by Wednesday. It would allow U.S. forces to keep operating in Iraq under certain restrictions until the end of 2011.

The agreement won approval from Iraq's Cabinet a week ago, but it has drawn opposition from some Iraqi factions who want to see U.S. forces leave more quickly.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. diplomat in Syria said Sunday that militants who have been driven out of Iraq continue to receive training, funding and guidance from abroad.

U.S. charge d'affaires Maura Connelly urged a gathering of Iraq's neighbors in Damascus to "refrain from tolerating" such militants. She called on them to improve information sharing about militant activities by conducting joint training exercises.

Syrian Interior Minister Bassam Abdul-Majid told the same gathering Sunday that Iraqi territory should not be used for attacks on Iraq's neighbors. Damascus has said Iraq-based U.S. forces crossed into Syria last month and carried out a deadly raid, killing eight civilians.

U.S. officials have said the raid killed a senior al-Qaida terrorist.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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