Iraq's parliament has rejected a draft law that would have allowed
troops from other countries to remain beyond the end of the year.
The draft law would not have affected the presence of U.S. troops. The United States already signed an agreement with the Iraqi government allowing troops to remain in Iraq after the United Nations mandate expires December 31.
The law would have authorized the presence of troops from Britain, Australia, Estonia, Romania and El Salvador to remain until the end of July.
Britain recently said it is withdrawing all of its forces by the end of May.
In a separate development, Iraq's Interior Ministry says 23 officials accused of working to rebuild the outlawed Baath party of former leader Saddam Hussein have been released. However, the Associated Press quotes the country's national security minister as saying 19 men are still being held.
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told reporters on Friday the arrests were motivated by politics, and not security. He denied that the detained Security and Defense Ministry officials were planning a coup.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.