Iraqi PM: Security talks with US have hit 'dead end'

Al-Maliki says US proposals "do not take into consideration Iraq's sovereignty."

Nouri al-Maliki 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Nouri al-Maliki 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday that the talks with the United States on a long-term security agreement between the two nations have reached a "dead end." Al-Maliki said the talks slumped because each side refused the other's demands. The initial framework agreed upon was to have been an accord "between two completely sovereign states, al-Maliki said. But he added, the US proposals "do not take into consideration Iraq's sovereignty." The prime minister, who spoke to reporters during a visit to neighboring Jordan, said, referring to the American demands, that "this is not acceptable." The US demands "violate Iraqi sovereignty. At the end, we reached a dead end." Washington and Baghdad have been negotiating behind closed doors a deal that would give US troops legal grounds for an extended stay in Iraq after a US mandate expires Dec. 31. The talks are also meant to fine-tune a separate accord on political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries. But al-Maliki's remarks Friday were the most outspoken and critical comments yet from the Iraqi side, reflecting deep misgivings about the deal, which has also been denounced by Teheran. The Iraqi premier, a Shi'ite, is close to the predominantly Shi'ite Iran. Officials close to al-Maliki tried to soften the impact of his remarks. A senior adviser to al-Maliki, Yassin Majid, told The Associated Press in Baghdad that despite the two sides being at "an impasse," negotiations were 'still continuing" in a bid to overcome the deadlock. "There are some alternative ideas still on the negotiating table," Majid said. The US Embassy in Baghdad did not immediately respond to a request for comment on al-Maliki's remarks. Failure to strike the security deal soon would leave the future of the American military presence in Iraq to the next administration. Al-Maliki's stance increased doubts the deal could be struck before the upcoming US presidential election. Iraqi opposition to the deal has mainly focused on concerns that the agreement would cement American military, political and economic domination of Iraq. US officials have refused to release details of the talks while they are still under way but have expressed their respect for Iraqi sovereignty. The top State Department adviser on Iraq, David Satterfield, told reporters this week that the two sides would meet a July target date to finish the agreement, which must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament. US President George W. Bush said this week in Germany that he was also confident that a deal would be reached.