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Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Sunday that US-Iraqi negotiations for a long-term security pact were not dead and that despite difficulties, a deal would be signed "by the end of July."

"These talks are ongoing. They're not dead," Zebari said of negotiations to decide the future of the US military presence in Iraq after the current UN mandate expires in December.

"Definitely, there hasn't been an impasse," he told CNN.

Zebari said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's statement Friday in Amman that Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) talks were at an impasse had been "corrected and clarified."

Maliki had said the talks were deadlocked because of concern the deal infringes Iraqi sovereignty.

Zebari stressed that, as a member of the negotiating team, "I know what's going on. We made a great deal of progress on finalizing the strategic framework agreement."

Asked whether a key stumbling block in the negotiations was who would authorise the movement of US troops inside Iraq -- Baghdad or Washington -- Zebari was cautious.

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