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Iraq demands answer on spying charges

The Iraqi government reacted sharply Friday to allegations that the U.S. spied on Iraq's prime minister, warning that future ties with the U.S. could be in jeopardy if the report were true.

The allegations appear by a new book, “The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008,” by journalist Bob Woodward, who writes that the U.S. spied extensively on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and other government officials.

The report emerged as the two governments are in negotiations over the future of American troops in Iraq. Those talks have already extended past their July 31 deadline and have drawn sharp criticism from Iraqis who want an end to the U.S. presence.

Critics may well use the allegations to step up pressure on the government not to sign a deal or hold out for the most favorable terms.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Baghdad will raise the allegations with the U.S. and ask for an explanation. But if true, he warned, it shows a lack of trust.

“It reflects also that the institutions in the United States are used to spy on their friends and their enemies in the same way,” al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

“If it is true, it casts a shadow on the future relations with such institutions,” al-Dabbagh added, referring to the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.

In Washington, the White House declined to directly comment on the allegations. Instead, spokeswoman Dana Perino said official channels of communication between the two governments happen daily.

“We have a good idea of what Prime Minister Maliki is thinking because he tells us, very frankly and very candidly, as often as we can,” Perino said.

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