U.S. troop agreement with Iraq

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Two Iraqi Army soldiers observe members of the U.S. Military during a training exercise in Iraq. (Image: Cpl. Billy Hall, marines.mil)

The Bush Administration hasn't made the draft agreement public yet, and lawmakers in both Baghdad and Washington are skeptical -- though for different reasons.

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"The World" anchor Marco Werman gets details from correspondent Quil Lawrence who's in Baghdad.

The deal was needed, according to Lawrence because, "It's a legal framework for the United States to be in Iraq. The United Nations has authorized the continuing American occupation through December 31 -- the end of this year. After that, there needs to be some sort of agreement between the government of Iraq and the United States for U.S. troops to be occupying the country."

Under this new legal framework, U.S. troops will reportedly come under Iraqi jurisdiction when off duty. This jurisdiction has been central to the talks -- Lawrence explains why: "It's a very sticky subject. On the one hand, Iraqis say it a violation of their sovereignty to have anyone running around the country who isn't subject to their laws, and we saw that come in to sharp relief when some American military contractors in the past have, in effect, gunned-down Iraqi civilians and then faced no justice in Iraq.

"For the American military and certainly U.S. politicians back at home, they don't like the idea of seeing U.S. soldiers possibly facing Iraqi justice in a country where the justice system isn't up and running yet; in a chaotic environment where they'll be asked to perform missions in the country, and then possibly face criminal prosecution."

As for how binding this agreement will be on the new American president, Lawrence says according to the Pentagon, it's not binding at all: "That is to say, if he wants to pull troops out sooner, he doesn't have to keep them in until 2011. In terms of the withdrawal date of 2011, that's a binding agreement between the government of Iraq and the government of the United States, and presidents are expected to maintain the treaties of their predecessors."

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

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