James Sturcke and agencies
Monday November 26, 2007
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2217387,00.html Iraq's government is preparing to grant the US a long-term troop presence in the country and preferential treatment for American investors in return for guaranteed security, it emerged today.
Iraqi officials said that, under the proposed formula, Iraq would get full responsibility for internal security and American troops would relocate to bases outside cities. The proposals foresee a long-term presence of about 50,000 US troops, down from the current figure of more than160,000.
Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, the Bush administration's adviser on Iraq, confirmed the proposal, calling it "a set of principles from which to begin formal negotiations".
"Think of today's agreement as setting the agenda for the formal bilateral negotiations," said Lute.
Those negotiations will take place during the first half of next year. As part of the package, Iraqi authorities want an end to the UN-mandated multinational forces mission.
Preferential treatment for US investors could provide a huge windfall if Iraq can achieve enough stability to exploit its vast oil resources.