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Iraq Seeks Changes To Text, Not Backbone Of U.S. Pact

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Baghdad will demand changes to the wording of a pact allowing U.S. troops to stay in Iraq, but will not seek to renegotiate the "backbone" of the agreement, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has said.

"In my opinion and based on my followup for the negotiations, I do not think there will be structural amendments. Maybe it will touch the wording and descriptions, possibly, but the backbone of the pact is what has already been agreed on," Zebari told Reuters in an interview.

Iraq's cabinet decided on October 21 to demand amendments to the pact, despite having agreed last week to a "final draft" after months of painstaking negotiations with Washington.

The Iraqi government has said it will draw up the proposed ammendments soon and then submit them to U.S. negotiators. Zebari said the Americans have agreed to hear the proposals, although he was unsure whether they would accecpt them.

"The absence of this pact will expose the country to dire consequences security-wise, economically and internationally," Zebari said. "The window of time is shutting slowly."