Page last updated at 23:36 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 00:36 UK

Iraq PM questions US troop deal

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad  (15/09/2008)
Mr Maliki said he hoped the US would show flexibility

Iraq's prime minister has said there are "serious and dangerous obstacles" to a deal with the US on the future status of American forces in Iraq.

Nouri al-Maliki told journalists that among other issues, a dispute remained over US soldiers' immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts.

But Mr Maliki said there was a deal with the US that all American troops should leave Iraq by December 2011.

The US currently has around 147,000 US troops based in Iraq.

Mr Maliki said American negotiators had not yet responded to Iraqi proposals for troop withdrawals but that there were "intensive contacts with the American side to resolve the points of argument".

The two countries have so far failed to reach an agreement over the future of US troops in Iraq once the current UN mandate expires at the end of 2008.

Their main disagreements focus on the issue of US troops' immunity and on the right of American soldiers to detain Iraqi citizens.

They have also not agreed on who would oversee military operations in Iraq.

Mr Maliki said that Iraq's demands were "related to the country's sovereignty".

"Iraqis have shown flexibility and we hope that the American side shows more flexibility," he said.

"If they implement our demand quickly, the deal will be signed soon, but if they refuse our demands, it will face obstacles and could lead to new negotiations."

The US said last week that negotiations on the deal were ongoing.

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