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Iraq awaits security deal answer

Iraq expects an American response to requested changes in a draft security pact soon after this week's U.S. presidential election, an aide to the prime minister said Sunday.

Another Iraqi official said the U.S. indicated it would accept all the proposed changes except one — greater Iraqi legal control over American soldiers and contractors.

Yassin Majeed said the U.S. response would come after Tuesday's vote so the president-elect — either Barack Obama or John McCain — could be briefed on the proposals, submitted by Iraq's cabinet last week.

Iraqi lawmakers say the changes are essential to win parliamentary approval for the deal, which would keep American troops in the country until 2012 and give the Iraqis a greater role in the conduct of U.S. military operations.

Parliament must approve the agreement before the year-end expiration of the U.N. mandate that allows coalition forces to operate.

Without an agreement or a new U.N. mandate, the U.S. military would have to suspend its mission, and the U.S military's future in Iraq would be up to the new president.

McCain supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the troop surge.

Obama opposed the invasion and said negotiations on a security agreement should be conducted as part of a “broader commitment” to begin withdrawing the troops. Obama's campaign Web site says he believes the agreement also should be approved by Congress.

Among other things, the Iraqis are now asking for a ban on using their territory to attack neighboring countries, removal of language that might allow the U.S. to stay past 2011 and changes in a clause providing limited Iraqi jurisdiction over U.S. troops. The current draft provides for limited Iraqi jurisdiction for major crimes committed off post and off duty.

The Iraqis want a joint U.S.-Iraqi committee to decide whether accused soldiers were off duty or on authorized missions.

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