US to pull out in three years under new deal

The Times reports this morning that American troops will withdraw from cities across Iraq as early as next summer and all US combat troops will leave the country within three years, provided the violence remains low, under the terms of a draft agreement with the Iraqi Government.

It quotes the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, as saying that the US would be “barred from unilaterally mounting attacks inside Iraq from next year”.

“We are talking about combat troops, maybe in 2010-11, there could be drawdowns,” he said Zebari said: “The idea is really to keep these forces outside the main cities, the population centres.”

“Our negotiators and the Americans have almost brought it [the accord] to a close. It is not a closed deal but it is very close,” Mr Zebari told The Times.

The paper says that the Pentagon refused to comment on the proposals laid out in the draft agreement between Baghdad and Washington that covers the status of US forces beyond 2008.

It adds that the UK will strike its own deal with Iraq. Gordon Brown has said he hopes to withdraw most British troops from Iraq by next summer.

Having a concrete timetable for troop withdrawal could be a boon for Barack Obama taking the pressure off of him and any tensions with the US military.