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Official: Iraq, U.S. Agree On Troop Pact

A senior aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says Iraq and the U.S. are now in agreement over a final draft of a security pact.

The pact would allow American troops to stay in Iraq for three more years after their United Nations mandate expires Dec. 31.

CBS News State Department correspondent Charlie Wolfson reports that a senior U.S. official has confirmed that al-Maliki's government does intend to move ahead with an agreement which would keep U.S. troops in Iraq through 2011.

"We agreed on a text and the Iraqis are taking it to the next step," said a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations.

The Iraqi prime minister has to first get cabinet approval for the deal. Then the Iraqi parliament would have to vote on it.

According to the official, a final decision will probably be decided one way or the other in the next several weeks.

According to the prime minister's aide, copies of the agreement will be distributed to Cabinet members later Saturday after a final revision of the Arabic translation and could be put to a vote in an emergency meeting Sunday or Monday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, the aide says the agreement stands "a good chance" of being passed by a two-thirds majority in the 37-member Cabinet.

If adopted by the Cabinet, the agreement will be voted on in parliament.

Car Bomb Kills 10

The U.S. military says a suicide car bombing in the northern city of Tal Afar has killed 10 Iraqis and wounded 20 people.

Staff Sgt. Sam Smith says the attacker was apparently targeting an automobile market in Saturday's bombing.

Tal Afar is near the volatile city of Mosul and has been the site of several recent bombings.

Accident Kills U.S. Soldier In Anbar Province

A soldier from Mountain Home, Ark., died Thursday of injuries he suffered in a vehicle accident in Iraq, the Army says.

Spc. James M. Clay, 25, died in Anbar Province in western Iraq, according to a news release from the Defense Department.

Clay was serving with the Arkansas National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Brigade Combat Team, the release said.

"The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation," the release said.

Clay graduated in 2002 from Cotter High School and married his high school sweetheart, Melissa Dewey, last November, a few months before he was deployed to Iraq. Friends say he was scheduled to return home from his tour of duty in less than a month.

"He was a true American hero," friend Tammi Piatt told the Baxter Bulletin newspaper.

Shiites Call For Basra To Be Mini-State

Two Shiite lawmakers have called for a referendum on turning the southern oil-rich province of Basra into a mini-state.

The push signals a renewed effort to allow regions self-rule in what would be a federalist system of government.

Sunnis have opposed such moves fearing they could lead to the country's eventual break up or isolate them from oil wealth concentrated in the mainly Shiite and Kurdish areas.

Lawmaker Wail Abdul-Latif said Saturday that Iraq's political process will "see more chances for stability" with such regions.

He told reporters that signatures are being collected in Basra to back a request for a referendum on the subject.

Sheik Kheir-Allah al-Basri insists the project is not a bid to divide the country.

Philippines Will Not Lift Ban On Workers In Iraq

The Philippines has no immediate plan to lift a ban on its citizens working in Iraq, the labor secretary said Saturday after a plea from an Iraqi diplomat for more foreign laborers to help with the war-torn country's reconstruction.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said there would be no deployment of Filipino workers pending an assessment of the security situation in Iraq.

Iraqi officials asked the Philippines to lift the ban several weeks ago because of an expected construction boom, Roque said.

"I told them, 'Wait a minute. We have to see if you can guarantee the security of our workers, before we consider allowing our workers to work in Iraq,"' he said in a radio broadcast.

The Philippines' economy is largely dependent on its overseas workers. Some 8.7 million of the Philippines' 90 million people work abroad and last year they sent home $14.45 billion - about 10 percent of gross domestic product.

Iraq's charge d'affaires Adel Mawlood Hamoudi al-Hakimh said Friday that the Middle Eastern country needs construction and oil workers, engineers, nurses, teachers and technicians.

The Philippines banned its citizens from working in Iraq in July 2004 after insurgents abducted and threatened to behead Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz. He was released after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to withdraw the Philippines' small military contingent in Iraq - a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other coalition allies.

Roque said about 10,000 Filipinos work in two U.S. military camps without permission from the Philippine government. Al-Hakimh said the number of Filipino workers has risen to 15,000 despite the ban.

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