The Iraqi Cabinet approved a security pact with the United States today.
The agreement will keep US troops in Iraq until 2011.
The New York Times reported:
The Iraqi cabinet voted overwhelmingly Sunday to approve the security agreement that sets the conditions for the Americans’ continued presence in Iraq from Jan. 1 until the end of 2011.
All but one of the 28 cabinet ministers who attended the two-and-a-half-hour session voted for the agreement and sent it to Parliament for consideration, a huge relief to the United States, which had been in intense negotiations with the Iraqis for nearly a year.
The United Nations Security Council resolution that allows U.S. troops to operate in Iraq expires Dec. 31, and, without an extension of the resolution or a separate agreement with the Iraqis like that approved by the cabinet on Sunday, forces of the U.S.-led coalition would have no legal mandate to operate.
“This is the best available alternative,” the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said shortly after the vote. “We have always said this is not a perfect solution for the Iraqi side and it is not a perfect solution for the American side. But it is a procedure which was forced by circumstances and necessity.
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The followers of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr called the pact meaningless.