U.S., Iraq closer to security pact, diplomats say
NEW YORK — Iraq and the United States are getting closer to completing an agreement that would govern the presence of U.S. troops in the country, the two nation's top diplomats said Saturday.
Less than a week after the resumption of negotiations on the deal in Baghdad, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said there was progress and they hoped for a conclusion soon.
"We are very close," Zebari said as he sat down for talks with Rice on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. "I think it is in the final stages. This will need the support of all the political leaders to get this agreement."
Rice offered a less enthusiastic appraisal. She said the talks were difficult and noted that the United States still was seeking assurances on legal protections for U.S. troops in Iraq.
The main sticking points include Iraqi objections to immunity for U.S. troops and private contractors, and demands for oversight over American forces during raids and detentions.
Shooting: Iraqi police fatally shot a Kurdish politician in Diyala province, a killing that underlines the growing tensions between Kurds and Arabs in parts of the north. Two police officers were being investigated as suspects in the shooting, a police official said.
U.S. death: The U.S. military announced that a soldier died southeast of Baghdad when his vehicle rolled over.
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Last week in Iraq
Iraq passes election law
Parliament approved a long-sought law Wednesday, paving the way for the first provincial elections in four years. U.S. officials hope the election, which must be held by Jan. 31, gives greater representation to minority Sunni Arabs, many of whom boycotted the last provincial election in January 2005.
As of Saturday, 4,174 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:
• Army 1st Lt. Thomas J. Brown, 26, Burke, Va.; small-arms fire Tuesday; Salman Pak.
• Army Chief Warrant Officer Corry A. Edwards, 38, Kennedale, Texas; helicopter crash Sept. 18; Tallil.
• Army Sgt. Daniel M. Eshbaugh, 43, Norman, Okla.; helicopter crash Sept. 18; Tallil.
• Army chaplain Col. Sidney J. Marceaux Jr., 69; noncombat-related illness; Sept. 14.
• Army Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Mason, 37, Springtown, Texas; helicopter crash Sept. 18; Tallil.
• Army 1st Sgt. Julio C. Ordonez, 54, San Antonio, Texas; helicopter crash Sept. 18; Tallil.
• Army Chief Warrant Officer Brady J. Rudolf, 37, Oklahoma City; helicopter crash Sept. 18; Tallil.
• Army Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Taylor, 25, Charleston, S.C.; small-arms fire Sept. 21; Baghdad.
• Army Cpl. Michael E. Thompson, 23, Harrah, Okla.; helicopter crash Sept. 18; Tallil.
• Army Capt. Robert Vallejo II, 28, Richland Hills, Texas; helicopter crash Sept. 18; Tallil.