Nouri al-Maliki has thrown his support behind the latest version of a proposed US-Iraqi security pact and will urge his Cabinet members to do the same, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Iraqi prime minister’s support represents a huge step in the contentious negotiations to replace an expiring UN mandate. Under the deal, US troops would be out by the end of 2011.
Along with the withdrawal timeline, the proposed agreement would lay out guidelines for US military conduct in Iraq. Maliki’s support comes in the wake of two key changes to the plan: one to keep US troops out of cities after June 2009 and another to require troops to get permission from the Iraqi government before searching homes. If Maliki's Cabinet approves, the deal then goes to parliament.