Draft agreement could allow US troops to remain in Iraq 'indefinitely'
US troops could be stationed in Iraq indefinitely
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Tuesday, 08, Apr 2008 10:21
US troops could be stationed in Iraq indefinitely, according to a leaked document.
The draft agreement, obtained by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, proposes a change to the current mandate for Nato coalition forces currently in situ in the wartorn region.
The document would reportedly allow the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security".
Though the draft, marked "secret" and "sensitive", describes the proposed arrangement as temporary and says US forces do not desire "permanent bases or a permanent military presence", it sets no time limit on US occupation of Iraq.
Some 156,000 US troops are currently stationed in Iraq and General David Petraeus, the head of US forces in the region, is today expected to call for a pause in withdrawals.
General Petraeus is to testify at the Senate armed services committee and the Senate foreign relations committee and is likely to praise the success of the 'surge' strategy that saw extra 30,000 troops sent to Iraq.
Should US president George Bush endorse General Petraeus' proposals to retain two of the five brigades of additional forces sent during the surge, the next president would take office in January 2008 with some 140,000 US troops still stationed in Iraq.
Today's hearing will also see presidential hopefuls John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama outline their plans for Iraq should they be installed as commander-in-chief.