US dialogue with Iraq will serve mutual interests, says Baghdad

Discussions set to define relations between Baghdad and Washington

Iraq's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said the US-Iraqi strategic dialogue, due to start on Wednesday, would benefit both parties. Reuters
Iraq's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said the US-Iraqi strategic dialogue, due to start on Wednesday, would benefit both parties. Reuters

The US-Iraqi strategic dialogue due to start on Wednesday will promote economic, social and political ties between the countries, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said.

These high-level discussions are intended to shape the future relationship between the US and Iraq.

This third round of talks are of “great interest” to the government in Baghdad and would serve mutual interests, Mr Hussein said.

Last June, the administration of former president Donald Trump held the first round of virtual meetings to clarify that coalition forces are in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi forces, to help prevent ISIS remnants from staging a comeback.

Two rounds of talks took place last June and August, in which Iraq’s militia groups and economic crisis were also discussed.

Baghdad made a formal request to US President Joe Biden’s administration to resume the talks.

The US blames Iran-backed militias for regular attacks on its personnel and interests in Iraq.

These attacks have put significant strain on the relationship between Baghdad and Washington.

The retaliatory US drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Suleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis in the Iraqi capital in January 2020 also raised tensions.

Washington withdrew its forces from Iraq in 2011, eight years after leading the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and set off a bitter sectarian conflict.

But thousands of American soldiers were redeployed to the country from 2014, as part of a global coalition battling ISIS.

US soldiers are seen during a handover ceremony of Taji military base from US-led coalition troops to Iraqi security forces, in the base north of Baghdad, Iraq on August 23, 2020. Reuters 
US soldiers at a ceremony handing over Taji military base, north of Baghdad, to Iraqi security forces, in August 2020. Reuters

Members of the Iraqi parliament have protested against the presence of US troops in the country, especially after the killing of Suleimani on Iraqi soil.

In the aftermath of the strike, members of parliament voted to expel all foreign soldiers from Iraqi territory, but this decision was never ratified or introduced.

Iraq's relations with the US have improved since Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi took office in May, but some political parties and groups, such as the Iran-backed Fatah bloc, continue to call for US forces to leave the country.

The number of US troops in Iraq has dropped to about 2,500, according to the Pentagon.

Updated: April 7, 2021 10:50 PM

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