One caveat, according to the American officer in Baghdad: "as long as that involvement is only for select targeted raids with accurate intelligence, and the U.S. forces quickly exit the area after the raid is complete."
Army Brig. Gen. William Phillips, the commander of the Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan, told McClatchy that "companies that want to come and do business in Iraq understand what the security situation is, but it won't be a deterrent. The (security) agreement is a great step forward for Iraqi sovereignty."
One of the Western representatives at the seminar, who asked not to be identified for proprietary business reasons, echoed that view: "We have certainly seen a number of companies that have enough confidence to proceed with investments in Iraq, although security is obviously a major concern and a huge influence in their costings. There is certainly the interest there going forward."
The Iraqi National Police have reported a few minor violations of the June 30 agreement. On July 1, a U.S. patrol set up a checkpoint in a village west of Baqouba in Diyala province, searched civilian cars for two hours and drove off. On July 5, an American patrol set up a checkpoint, searched vehicles and conducted house-to-house searches in Abu Ghraib, a western suburb of Baghdad.
A Multi-National Force/Iraq spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.
For now, it seems that the 130,000-plus American troops in Iraq will serve mainly by waiting for that radio call from Iraqi security forces.
(McClatchy special correspondent Sahar Issa in Baghdad and special correspondents in several major Iraqi cities contributed to this report.)
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