An Iraqi government spokesman says Iraq's Cabinet has approved draft legislation that lifts immunity from prosecution for private security firms in Iraq.
The spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said on Tuesday the measure will subject all security companies to Iraqi law and revoke the immunity given to foreign security contractors by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004.
He says the legislation will be sent to the parliament for ratification.
Even if Iraqi lawmakers approve the legislation to lift immunity, it will not apply retroactively to the guards from Blackwater USA who are accused of shooting and killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad last month.
But a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Sean McCormack, told reporters Tuesday that the immunity extended to the Blackwater guards is limited, and they could still face criminal prosecution.
The security firm says the Iraqis were killed when guards responded lawfully to an attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy.
In other news, Reporters Without Borders has condemned the killing of Iraqi journalist in the capital.
The Iraq Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a non-governmental organization, reported Tuesday that the body of Shehab Mohammed al-Hiti was found in northern Baghdad on Saturday. He disappeared on his way to work earlier that day.
Separately, Iraq's parliament filled two of the six ministerial posts vacated earlier this year by ministers loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
The ministers had quit to protest the government's refusal to set a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
Parliament earlier approved the appointment of Saleh al-Hasnawi as health minister and Ali al-Bahadeli as agriculture minister.
In other news, Iranian state media quote Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as rejecting U.S. accusations that Iran is responsible for the deaths of American forces in Iraq. He accused the U.S. government of lying about Iranian involvement in Iraq.
The U.S. has accused Iran of supplying weapons and training to militias fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.
Iranian media say Mottaki is to visit Baghdad on Wednesday for talks with Iraqi officials on bilateral issues.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.