Source AP ©

Iraq prepared to offer US long-term presence in return for security

America guarantees Iraq long-term security including defense against internal coups and Iraq's government, in return, is prepared to offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq and preferential treatment for American investments.

The proposal, described to the AP by two senior officials familiar with the issue, is one of the first indications that the United States and Iraq are beginning to explore what their relationship might look like, once the U.S. significantly draws down its troop presence.

As part of the package, the Iraqis want an end to the current U.N.-mandated multinational forces mission, and also an end to all U.N.-ordered restrictions on Iraq's sovereignty.

Iraq has been living under some form of U.N. restriction since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the officials said.

American troops and other foreign forces now operate in Iraq under a U.N. Security Council mandate, which has been renewed annually since 2003. Iraqi officials have said they want that next renewal - which must be approved by the U.N. Security Council by the end of this year - to be the last.

The two senior Iraqi officials said Iraqi authorities had discussed the broad outlines of the proposal with U.S. military and diplomatic representatives. The Americans appeared generally favorable subject to negotiations on the details.

The two Iraqi officials, who are from two different political parties, spoke on condition of anonymity because the subject is sensitive. Members of parliament were briefed on the plan during a three-hour closed-door meeting Sunday, during which lawmakers loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr objected to the formula.

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