Blinken meets Iraqi foreign minister Hussein in Washington

Iraq's top diplomat expected to discuss sanctions in meeting with US Secretary of State

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein at the State Department in Washington on February 9. AFP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday met Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in Washington in what he described as an important meeting.

Mr Blinken said he and Mr Hussein would continue to work on a strategic framework agreement between Washington and Baghdad.

“We are now focused very intensely on the economic dimension of that agreement,” he said.

“The work that we can do together, the United States and Iraq, to continue to strengthen Iraq’s economy, its integration, reintegration in the region in ways that make a material difference in the lives of the Iraqi people, Iraqi citizens.”

The two were also expected to discuss Iraq's efforts for energy independence.

“One particular focus will be on energy, on electricity," Mr Blinken said.

"Iraq can and should be strongly energy independent, and this is something that I think the United States and others can continue to support Iraq as it moves in that direction."

Calling Mr Blinken a “friend to the Iraqi people”, Mr Hussein said he looked forward to continue working together to rebuild the Iraqi economy.

Other topics included strengthening Iraq's economy and battling climate change, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

In Baghdad earlier this week, Mr Hussein said he would discuss how Iraq would pay its dues to Russian oil companies, even though Moscow is under international sanctions.

“There are sanctions in place that should not be imposed on the Iraqi side because the co-operation with Russian companies is continuing and there are active Russian companies in Iraq,” he said alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.

When pressed on the matter on Thursday, Mr Price said it was not Washington's approach to “issue demands [or] to issue decrees” with Iraq or other partners.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: February 09, 2023, 10:05 PM