The U.S. administration has said details of a security deal with Iraq had yet to be worked out, pouring cold water on assertions by the head of Iraq’s negotiating delegation who said a deal has been reached on a timetable for withdrawing American troops by the end of 2011.
"There are still discussions ongoing," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "It's not done until it's done."
Top Iraqi negotiator Mohammed al-Haj Hammoud said on Friday that negotiators have finalized a deal which will see the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by 2011, ending an eight-year occupation.
Under the 27-point deal all American combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraqi cities by next June, according to Hammoud.
The agreement has already been approved by U.S. President George W. Bush and now needs to be endorsed by Iraqi leaders, he added.
Hammoud said Baghdad and Washington had agreed to "withdraw the US troops from Iraq by end of 2011."
"The combat troops will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 2009. Both the parties have agreed on this," he added. "The negotiators' job is done. Now it is up to the leaders."
The security pact will decide the future of U.S. forces in Iraq once the present U.N. mandate, which provides the legal framework for the presence of foreign forces in Iraq, expires in December.
Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had agreed last November to formalize such an agreement by July 31.
The arrangement was delayed by strong opposition from Iraqi leaders over issues such as a timetable for withdrawal, how many bases Washington would retain and whether American troops would be immune from Iraqi laws.
A U.S. military official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP on Thursday that under the agreement the withdrawal of US forces from Iraqi cities "could be as early as June, conditions permitting."