BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama did not urge Iraqi officials to delay a decision on a security agreement with the United States, Iraq's foreign minister told CNN on Sunday.
The statement by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari refutes a recent published report and a statement by Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that Obama tried to influence Iraqi politicians negotiating with the United States to score political points.
Fact Check: What did Obama tell the Iraqis?
Obama "never, ever discouraged us not to sign the agreement," Zebari said. "I think this was misrepresented, and I have clarified this case in a number of interviews back in the United States recently."
The Washington Times reported Friday that in June, Obama told Iraqi leaders in Baghdad that an agreement between the United States and the leaders to allow U.S. troops to stay in the country after 2008 should not go into effect unless it had congressional approval.
The newspaper quoted Samir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States, about a June 16 telephone conversation between Zebari and Obama.
But the article did not contain a comment from Zebari.
The campaign of Obama's Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, argued that Obama's call interfered with U.S. efforts to reach a "status of forces agreement" with the Iraqi government. The United States and Iraq have yet to announce an agreement despite numerous reports that one was near.
During a Friday fund-raiser in Madeira, Ohio, Palin said Obama tried to influence the negotiations "in a way that would set back America's cause there, while advancing his campaign here."