US-Iraq strategic dialogue to take place on April 7
The online talks will be the first under President Joe Biden's administration
US President Joe Biden’s administration will hold its first round of strategic dialogue with Iraq on April 7, the State Department said on Tuesday.
Last June, the administration of former president Donald Trump held a virtual meeting to clarify that the coalition forces are in Iraq for training and to advise Iraqi forces, so that ISIS remnants cannot make a comeback.
“The United States and the Republic of Iraq will hold Strategic Dialogue discussions via video teleconference on April 7 in accordance with the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement between our two countries,” the US State Department said.
The relationship between the US and Iraq, including its military presence in the country, is based on a strategic framework agreement signed in 2008. It called for close defence co-operation to deter threats to Iraq's “sovereignty, security and territorial integrity".
The talks, due to take place next Wednesday, will focus on security, counterterrorism, economics and energy, political issues, and educational and cultural co-operation.
Baghdad made a formal request to Mr Biden's administration to resume the talks that kicked off last year.
Since then relations between the two have been turbulent due to attacks on military bases hosting US and other foreign troops in Iraq that are believed to have been carried out by militia groups backed by Tehran.
Iraq is key to the US strategy of containing the expansion and power of Iran’s current regime.
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.
Thousands of American soldiers were redeployed to the country from 2014 onwards as part of an international coalition battling ISIS.
But some members of the Iraqi Parliament have protested against the foreign presence in the country since the killing of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani on Iraqi soil in January 2020.
They voted to expel all foreign soldiers from Iraqi territory shortly after the drone strike at Baghdad International Airport, which also killed militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, but the decision was never ratified and implemented.
Since then Washington has reduced its troop presence to a smaller number of bases with missile defences, following dozens of attacks on military bases hosting foreign troops across the country.
US forces in the country were reduced to 2,500 by Mr Trump. The move was ratified before he left office in mid-January.
Updated: March 30, 2021 03:27 PM