WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush and other senior U.S. officials hailed the new U.S.-Iraq security pact that was approved by Iraqi lawmakers in Baghdad yesterday.

The two-part security pact consists of a strategic framework agreement that establishes the foundation of a long-term bilateral relationship between the United States and Iraq, as well as a status-of-forces agreement that stipulates how U.S. forces are affected by Iraqi laws.

A majority vote of Iraqi legislators in attendance approved the new security agreement. The passage of the pact “affirms the growth of Iraq’s democracy” as well as its “increasing ability to secure itself,” Bush said in White House statement issued yesterday.

“Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely – but the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament,” Bush continued in the statement. “The improved conditions on the ground and the parliamentary approval of these two agreements serve as a testament to the Iraqi, Coalition, and American men and women, both military and civilian, who paved the way for this day.”

Both agreements take effect Jan. 1, 2009. They replace a UN mandate authorizing the U.S. military presence in Iraq that’s slated to expire Dec. 31, 2008. The new security pact is slated for review and final approval by Iraq’s Presidency Council, Bush said.

“As the two agreements move to Iraq’s Presidency Council for final approval,” Bush said in the statement, “we congratulate the members of the Council of Representatives for coming together to approve these historic agreements that will serve the shared and enduring interests of both our countries and the region.”

The strategic framework agreement establishes principles of U.S.-Iraqi cooperation in the realms of politics, defense, diplomacy, security, culture, economics, energy, health and environment, law enforcement and judiciary functions, and information technology and communications.

The 30-article status-of-forces agreement, known by the acronym, SOFA, acknowledges that the U.S. troop presence in Iraq is temporary and at the request of the sovereign Iraqi government. Article 24 of the SOFA requires U.S. forces to withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than Dec. 31, 2011. U.S. combat forces in Iraq also are required to withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages and localities no later than June 30, 2009.

The U.S.-Iraq SOFA agreement also stipulates that U.S. forces may not search Iraqi homes or other real estate properties without an Iraqi-government-issued search warrant, except during the case of combat operations.

The two security agreements “formalize a strong and equal partnership between the United States and Iraq,” U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker and Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said in joint news release issued yesterday.

The pact also provides “the means to secure the significant security gains we have achieved together and to deter future aggression,” Crocker and Odierno continued. “They establish a framework for cooperation in the fields of defense, political relations, economics, trade, culture, education, the rule of law, health, the environment and science and technology.”

Crocker and Odierno congratulated the Iraqi government and its elected representatives “for making these agreements possible,” according to the joint release.

Up Next

Frontline Firepower

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush and other senior U.S. officials hailed the new…