Iraq's UN ambassador said Friday that Iraq and the US will remain allies when Barack Obama takes over as US president in January. Ambassador Hamid al-Bayati said that he is still optimistic Iraq and the United States can agree on a security pact by the end of December. Bayati said negotiations are continuing on the pact, which would keep US troops in Iraq until the end of 2011. But the Iraqi ambassador told reporters that Iraq is keeping all its options open. If an agreement isn't reached, al-Bayati said, his government can go to the UN Security Council to ask for an extension of the mandate authorizing the US-led multinational force to remain in Iraq beyond Dec. 31, when the current mandate expires.