CNN.com – After months of tough negotiations and intense political wrangling, Iraqi lawmakers Thursday approved the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, a pact that allows the presence of American troops in Iraq for three more years.
The vote — which now needs unanimous ratification from the country’s three-member presidency council — comes after a compromise on a reform package that Sunni Arab politicians demanded in return for their backing of the agreement.
There were 198 lawmakers from the 275-member parliament present for the vote; 149 of them voted for the security pact, which is to replace a U.N. mandate that expires at the end of year.
The proposal, reached after months of negotiations between Iraqi and U.S. representatives, sets June 30, 2009, as the deadline for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns. The date for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq would be December 31, 2011.
The agreement — which stresses respect for Iraqi sovereignty — “requests the temporary assistance” of U.S. forces, but severely restricts their role.
It says that all military operations are to be carried out with the agreement of Iraq and must be “fully coordinated” with Iraqis. A Joint Military Operations Coordination Committee would oversee military operations.