Iraqi MPs have approved the return of a limited number of British troops to Iraq to help protect the country's southern oil ports.
Published: 5:21PM BST 13 Oct 2009
Iraq's parliament approved the security agreement with Britain months after the military contingent was forced to pull out because a United Nations mandate allowing UK forces to legally operate in the country expired.
Under the agreement sealed on Tuesday, about 100 British troops would return for about a year to provide protection to the oil sites and train Iraqi forces.
President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents must still sign off on the agreement.
The deal limits British military operations in Iraq strictly to naval operations at the southern port of Umm Qasr, said Jabir Khalifa Jabir, of the Baghdad parliament's oil and gas committee.
Almost all British forces left Iraq earlier this year. A contingent of about 100 to 150 troops who were training Iraq's new navy remained, but those forces were moved to Kuwait when Iraq's parliament began the summer recess without agreeing to allow the British to stay.
US military officials have repeatedly said Iraq has still not purchased the navy ships and patrol planes it badly needs to defend its waters.
Tuesday's pact drew objections and harsh words from MPs representing the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose allies in the southern city of Basra oppose the presence of foreign troops in the region.