BAGHDAD — Iraq's foreign minister says the country has little choice but to sign a new security agreement with the U.S. that would let American troops stay in the country after a U.N. mandate expires.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari recently returned to Iraq after meeting with President Bush in Washington to discuss the agreement, which has been criticized by many Iraqi officials worried it would leave too much power in U.S. hands.

But Zebari told parliament Tuesday that the only other options were to extend the U.N. mandate that expires at the end of the year or continue without a formal agreement, neither of which holds much appeal to Iraqis.

He said an agreement would last one or two years and urged Iraqi officials to finalize it by the end of July.