Iraq's parliament has rejected a draft law that would have allowed
troops from other countries to remain beyond the end of the year.
The draft law would not have affected the presence of U.S. troops. The
United States already signed an agreement with the Iraqi government
allowing troops to remain in Iraq after the United Nations mandate
expires December 31st.
The law would have authorized the presence of troops from Britain,
Australia, Estonia, Romania and El Salvador to remain until the end of
Britain recently said it is withdrawing all of its forces by the end of May.
In a separate development, Iraq's interior ministry says 23 officials
accused of working to rebuild the outlawed Baath party of former leader
Saddam Hussein have been released. However, the Associated Press quotes
the country's national security minister (Sherwan al-Waili) as saying 19 men are still being held.
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told reporters on Friday the arrests
were motivated by politics, and not security. He denied that the
detained security and defense ministry officials were planning a coup.