US, Iraq Inch Closer to Pact

'Time horizon' greases wheels in negotiation
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2008 11:00 AM CDT
President Bush, right, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finish their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007.    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – The Bush administration has made serious strides in its efforts to forge a security pact with Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reports. Just a month ago Nouri al-Maliki said talks had hit a “dead end,” but now that Bush has agreed to set up a flexible withdrawal timetable, things are moving much more quickly. Both sides are hopeful that they can hammer out a deal by the administration’s deadline tomorrow.

Both sides stress that nothing is final however, and any deal would still need to be ratified by Iraq’s parliament, which won’t meet again until September. But optimism is once again high. “There has been a lot of progress,” said Ambassador Ryan Crocker. “There is new momentum behind it now.” The final deal likely won’t be a Status of Forces Agreement however, but a shorter-term measure.