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Iraq VP calls for national referendum on US status of forces agreement

[JURIST] Iraqi Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi [personal website, in Arabic], one of two Iraqi vice presidents, called Tuesday for a national referendum on a proposed US-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [CFR materials]. The agreement, which has been the subject of protracted negotiations between Iraq and the US since May, would extend the role of US forces in Iraq through 2011 and define the ongoing relationship between the US military and Iraqi civilian institutions, including the national police service and the Iraqi justice system. It also gives Iraqi courts limited jurisdiction over American military personnel [JURIST report] for crimes committed off base when the troops are not on an authorized mission. Al-Hashemi characterized a national vote approving the SOFA as an essential requirement for Iraqi acceptance of the agreement. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

The draft agreement has been delayed [JURIST report] by months of negotiation, and must be approved by lawmakers in both countries. The current UN mandate authorizing a US troop presence in Iraq expires in December [UN press release]. In late June, the US agreed to eliminate legal immunity for US contractors [JURIST report] from the proposed agreement, and suggested that it might concede US control of Iraqi airspace. .

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