The U.S.-Iraq pact passed a key, and perhaps final, hurdle when Iraq's three-member presidential council -- a Kurd, a Sunni and a Shiite -- signed the security agreement.
The parliament had approved it earlier. The agreement, at Sunni insistence, may have to be put to a referendum in late July. But U.S. forces will have withdrawn from Iraq's cities a month earlier, so the American presence should be less onerous.
The pact calls for American troops -- except for those the Iraqi government specifically asks to stay -- to be out entirely by Jan. 1, 2012.
Top defense leaders are telling Congress the U.S. must be cautious as the Pentagon begins to cut troops in Iraq and focus more attention on the escalating fight in Afghanistan.
President George W. Bush's decision to mount a troop "surge" in Iraq last year was taken against the initial recommendations of his top advisers, including his field commander, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.
Negotiators have finalized a deal which will see the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by 2011, the top Iraqi heading the team told AFP Friday.
Under the 27-point deal all US combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraqi cities by next June, said negotiator Mohammed al-Haj Hammoud.
The Bush administration, which has adamantly opposed timetables and a date for withdrawal from Iraq, has reached tentative agreement with Baghdad on both.
The US government paid out 85 billion dollars in four years to contractors providing services to various government agencies in support of the Iraq war and reconstruction, a survey showed Tuesday.
The Pentagon is unable to send additional combat brigades to Afghanistan this year because of constraints imposed by the war in Iraq, leaving a shift of forces to the next president, a spokesman said Wednesday.
Far from the combat zones, the strains and separations of no-end-in-sight wars are taking an ever-growing toll on military families despite the armed services' earnest efforts to help.