Iraq's prime minister Nouri al Maliki has reportedly said that negotiations over the long-term security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq are at a dead end. American proposals "violate Iraqi sovereignty," he said. While the prime minister's words offer no hope that an agreement will be reached, an al Maliki adviser says things may not be so bad.
A senior al-Maliki adviser, Yassin Majid, said at Amman that despite the "impasse," negotiations were "still continuing" in a bid to overcome the deadlock.
What was rejected was the "preliminary draft" presented by both sides, "but there are alternative ideas that will be presented to the negotiating table at an upcoming meeting," he said.
He declined to say when the meeting was to take place, but other Iraqi officials accompanying the prime minister said the impasse came about "because the ceiling of American requests were extremely high."
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the main point of contention was the issue of the continued American troop presence in Iraq.
Failure to strike the security deal soon would leave the future of the American military presence in Iraq to the next administration. Mr. al-Maliki's stance increased doubts the deal could be struck before the upcoming American presidential election.
Iraqi opposition to the deal has mainly focused on concerns that the agreement would cement American military, political, and economic domination of Iraq.
American officials have refused to release details of the talks while they are still under way but have expressed their respect for Iraqi sovereignty.
The top State Department adviser on Iraq, David Satterfield, told reporters this week that the two sides would meet a July target date to finish the agreement, which must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament.
President Bush said this week in Germany that he was also confident that a deal would be reached.
We'll see fairly soon if this amounts to anything more than haggling.