Iraqi Cabinet agrees to extend mandate for US-led forces for a year

The Iraqi Cabinet agreed Tuesday to ask the United Nations to extend the authorization for US-led forces in Iraq through the end of next year, but it will be the last time, officials said. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said last week that his government would ask the UN Security Council for the last time to renew the mandate that has given the United States and its partners sweeping powers in Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. The chief government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the Cabinet had formally approved that decision. US Embassy spokesman Philip Reeker welcomed the move. "This is a very positive process," he said at a news conference. "Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own but will not have to stand alone."