BAGHDAD // Iraq's prime minister said the handover of the heavily fortified Green Zone and the presidential palace is the most visible sign his country has regained its sovereignty. Nouri al-Maliki spoke today during a ceremony marking the takeover by the Iraqi authority of Saddam Hussein's large palace. The takeover is part of a security deal with the United States. The palace served as the US Embassy and headquarters of the US military in Iraq until a new American embassy was built nearby.
Mr al Maliki said he will propose Jan 1 as a national holiday to commemorate what he described as "Sovereignty Day" - the day Iraq took the lead in security from US forces, including of its airspace, and reclaimed a wide swath of downtown Baghdad's "Green Zone". *AP