Iraq won't accept permanent US bases: official

Updated: 2007-12-17 20:28

BAGHDAD -- Iraq may need the foreign troops to maintain security for another ten years, but it will never accept US permanent military bases, a government spokesman said on Monday.

"We need the foreign troops to support us as long as we have security problems. From now to ten years our troops will not be capable to defend Iraq," Ali al-Dabbagh said in an interview on the state-run al-Iraqiya television.

"But that doesn't mean we will accept the presence of permanent US military bases," he said.

Dabbagh's comments came almost a week after Iraq's national security adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, said that Iraq will never allow the United States to have permanent military bases on its soil, saying that it is a"red line" that cannot be crossed.

"We need the United States in our war against terrorism, we need them to guard our border sometimes, we need them for economic support and we need them for diplomatic and political support," Rubaie told Dubai-based al-Arabiyah television.

"But there is one thing I have to say, permanent military bases in Iraq for any foreign forces is a red line that cannot be accepted by any nationalist Iraqi," Rubaie said.

The United States has more than 150,000 troops in Iraq, who are under a United Nations mandate since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Earlier, Iraq officially asked the United Nations to renew its mandate for the U.S-led Multi National Forces for a year until the end of 2008. Iraq made clear that Iraq would not extend the mandate beyond next year and the mandate could be revoked sooner at Iraq's request.

Last month, US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki signed a declaration of principles agreeing to long-term ties.

Top World News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours