I'm not America's man in Iraq: PM Maliki
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I'm not America's man in Iraq: PM Maliki

The furious Iraqi leader insisted that no outside power could determine the agenda of his government.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2006 15:26 IST

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the US ambassador to his country "I consider myself a friend of the United States, but I'm not America's man in Iraq," a close aide told the agency on Saturday.

Hassen Sunaid, a senior Maliki adviser who talked to him immediately after Friday's meeting with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, said Maliki would talk by video link to US President George W Bush at 2.00 pm on Saturday.

Maliki fell out publicly with his main ally this week after US officials appeared to try to bump him into accepting a timetable of political reforms designed to placate Iraq's warring parties and end a sectarian war.

The furious Iraqi leader insisted that no outside power could determine the agenda of his government, despite the two countries' agreeing over the broad outlines of a plan to disarm illegal militias and kickstart a peace process.

The prime minister met Khalilzad on Friday and the pair later released a rare joint statement, which tried to paper over the cracks in their alliance, but not before Maliki had spoken firmly to the US envoy.

Sunaid quoted the prime minister as telling Khalilzad: "I am elected by a people and a parliament. Security should be coordinated with me. Decisions should not be unilateral."

In Saturday's video conference he will tell Bush the same thing and call on the United States to live up to its commitments to rebuild the Iraqi military and equip it to fight the insurgency against his rule, the aide said.

"He will also call for US support for reconciliation," Sunaid added. Maliki and the United States do not see eye-to-eye on the peace process, with the Iraqi leader keener than Washington to draw Shiite militia leaders such as radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr into a peace initiative.

"They will also talk about the extension of the US forces in Iraq. This should be done with the approval of the Iraqi parliament," the adviser said. The United States has 142,000 troops in Iraq.

First Published: Oct 28, 2006 15:26 IST