The United States on Wednesday committed to relocate all remaining combat forces from Iraq, although the two sides did not set any time for a second withdrawal after the 2003 invasion.
The first “strategic dialogue” with Iraq under the administration of US President Joe Biden comes for Iran-Shia paramilitary groups, which rocket rockets at bases with foreign troops almost daily, in hopes of exiting the US.
In a videoconferencing led by the two countries’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussain agreed that the Iraqi military was ready to take on more responsibility.
“The parties confirmed that the mission of the US and coalition forces has now made a transition to focus on training and advisory tasks, allowing the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, along with the upcoming Technical talks will also be held. ” The joint statement stated.
Iraq has gone on a fine line to balance its relations between the United States and Iran, sharing religious ties with its Shia-majority neighbor.
The Iraqi call for the withdrawal of the US military was heightened in January 2020 after top Iranian commander Qasim Soleimani ordered assassination in Baghdad by former President Donald Trump – and tensions remain high.
In February, Biden ordered an airstrike on Iranian-linked paramilitary targets in Syria, as a rocket attack killed a US-led coalition contractor and injured US personnel.
But Biden, in a rare point of agreement with Trump, is looking for ways to air what have been dubbed “endless wars”.
Trump had in his final months ordered to reduce the number of US troops from Iraq as well as Afghanistan to 2,500 in each country by January 15.
Iraq’s national security adviser, Qasam al-Araji, promised efforts to protect foreign forces and confirmed that the United States would proceed with a pullout.
“The American side promised to withdraw a significant number of its troops from Iraq,” he said.
The Pentagon refused to specify a timeline for the withdrawal, saying it would be worked on in technical negotiations.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, “We are finally working for everyone.”
Former President Barack Obama, led by Biden, served as vice-president, had removed all US forces from Iraq in fulfillment of his pledges after opposing the 2003 invasion.
But Obama sent troops back in 2014 as the Islamic State group brutally murdered and enslaved the whole of Iraq and Syria, but Sunni Muslims established it as a “caliphate”.
“The mission is still valid. The invitation by the Iraqi government is still in force,” Kirby said.
The joint statement said the US military was in Iraq “in support of Iraq’s effort in the fight against ISIS”, but were transitioning to “train, equip and assist” Iraqi forces.
The joint statement said the shift “reflects the success of their strategic partnership and (support to Iraqi security forces) ensures that ISIS can never jeopardize Iraq’s stability.”
Leaving Iraq is noted as Biden portrays Middle Eastern wars and devotes more resources to global rivalry with China.
Biden has also made more distance from allied Saudi Arabia, including ending support for his devastating war in Yemen, and has looked to ease tensions with Iran.
This week an American envoy is taking part in indirect negotiations in Vienna upon returning to a nuclear deal with Iran.
A major goal of the Trump administration – the Biden administration last week gave sanctions from Iraq a maximum extension to curb gas imports from Iran.
(This story is not edited by NDTV staff and auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)