Iraq PM says U.S. agrees to withdraw troops by 2011

Iraqi army soldiers march during a graduation ceremony after their training in Besmaya Combat Training Centre, in the outskirts of Baghdad August 20, 2008. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday that an agreement had been reached in negotiations on a security pact with the United States to end any foreign military presence in Iraq by the end of 2011.

“There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date which is the end of 2011 to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil,” Maliki said in a speech to tribal leaders in the Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

“Yes, there is major progress on the issue of the negotiations on the security deal,” Maliki said.

The Iraqi government has said it is proposing U.S. troops end patrols of Iraqi towns and villages by the middle of next year and U.S. combat troops leave Iraq by 2011.

But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a visit to Baghdad last week that no final agreement had been reached. The Bush administration has sought to steer clear of fixed timetables in negotiating the agreement.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed