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Iraqi Lawmakers Ready to Vote on US Security Deal

Iraqi lawmakers are expected to vote next week on a controversial new U.S.-Iraq security pact, which sets out conditions for a continued U.S. presence in Iraq.

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament said Saturday that parliament will vote on the pact by Wednesday.

Iraqi and U.S. leaders support the agreement, which would require U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities by next June. The deal requires all U.S. troops to leave the country by the end of 2011.

But the proposal has also angered many Iraqis who want to see U.S. forces leave more quickly.

Thousands of Iraqis gathered in Baghdad's Firdous Square to demonstrate against the pact on Friday. The protesters, many of them followers of the anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, threw bottles and shoes and then burned an effigy of U.S. President George Bush.

Minority Sadrist lawmakers also disrupted a parliamentary reading of the pact earlier this week.

The security agreement would also lift immunity for private contractors working in Iraq, making them subject to local laws. The pact replaces a U.N. mandate that expires next year.

While U.S. and Iraqi officials have called the pact a firm commitment on the future of the American military presence, both sides have said it could be renegotiated.

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