The joint statement of the new round of strategic dialogue between Baghdad and Washington
20:56 - 07/04/20210
The information / Baghdad
The joint statement, to the Baghdad and Washington talks, on Wednesday, affirmed that the US forces and the so-called international coalition will shift to training missions, allowing the rest of the combat forces to be redeployed outside Iraq , confirming that the US forces are in Iraq for the sake of fighting and not for the purpose of advice and training, as they were. Washington claims.
The statement stated, and received by "the information", that “According to the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement on the relationship of friendship and cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, and the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, chaired the delegations of the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America in a meeting. The Higher Coordination Committee via video call on Wednesday 7/4/2021.
The two sides reaffirmed the importance of the strong bilateral relations that are beneficial to the Iraqi and American people. Discussions covered issues of security and combating terrorism, the economy, energy and the environment, political issues, and cultural relations. Representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government also participated in the dialogue.
The two countries reaffirmed the importance of the principles of the Strategic Framework Agreement, and the United States reaffirmed its respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and the relevant decisions issued by the Iraqi legislative and executive authorities.
He added, " Iraq and the United States are aware of the difficulties caused by the Corona virus and the global economic slowdown, and they reaffirm their strong economic partnership." The United States also commended the recent steps taken by the Iraqi government to join the New York Arbitration Agreement and introduce a system of "granting visas upon arrival" in order to enhance international trade and foreign investment. Both countries intend to work closely with each other as Iraq commits to implementing reforms in order to diversify its economy, improve the business climate, and provide assistance to create a more vibrant private sector. The American delegation reaffirmed that American companies can provide assistance in diversifying the Iraqi economy by investing in projects that will create jobs, improve public services and help develop energy resources in the country.
The two countries also discussed the importance of increasing cooperation between them to combat the Corona pandemic. Where the US government contributed by providing funds to renovate and equip Iraqi public health laboratories, and donated corona virus testing equipment and personal protective equipment, in addition to training Iraqi epidemiologists on ways to identify and respond to current and future outbreaks of the disease.
And that "the United States expressed its support for the efforts made by Iraq to reform the energy sector in order to provide cheap electric power with fewer interruptions for the citizens." The two countries affirmed their support for Iraq’s decision to diversify its energy sources through building and strengthening ties with neighboring countries such as Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and moving forward with electrical grid interconnection projects. Both Iraq and the United States indicated their common intention to address the climate emergency and work together to promote clean energy and combat climate change, including working with the private sector in the United States, through the implementation of projects that promote clean energy development, and improve ways to generate electricity using solar energy. And the development of energy production efficiency, and the treatment of gas associated with oil extraction. Such projects increase the contribution to the implementation of Iraq's obligations towards the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and this is a positive development that the United States welcomes. The two countries discussed cooperation with US scientific bodies to help Iraq improve the management and protection of its environmental and natural resources, including water resources. The United States also welcomed the progress made in relations between the federal government in Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government by reaching an agreement on budget, energy and other strategic issues.
The United States reiterated its affirmation of respecting Iraq's sovereignty , territorial integrity, and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution. The two delegations discussed ways in which the United States can support the Iraqi government in terms of providing protection for peaceful protesters and civil society activists, and achieving legal accountability. Iraq welcomed the United States' support for the parliamentary elections through its funding of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq .
The two countries jointly extended the maximum period of validity of entry visas for diplomats and government delegations to up to two years, thus reducing administrative postponements in both countries, and this will ensure greater ease of travel and direct communication between the two governments.
The United States also renewed its continued determination to support Iraq in finding durable solutions with regard to internally displaced persons, so that these solutions are voluntary, safe and dignified, in addition to providing assistance to groups that have been subjected to genocide by ISIS .
The two countries also discussed working on achieving more progress in the areas of judicial cooperation, property restitution and the fight against corruption.
With regard to discussions related to security and combating terrorism, the two sides reaffirmed their common desire to continue coordination and bilateral cooperation, and the two countries also affirmed that the presence of US forces in Iraq was based on the Iraqi government's call for the purpose of supporting the Iraqi security forces in their war against ISIS .
In light of the development of the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces , the two parties concluded that the role of the US and coalition forces has now shifted to training and advisory missions in a manner that allows for the redeployment of the remainder of the combat forces outside Iraq , provided that the two parties agree on timelines in future technical talks.
This shift in the nature of the missions of US and other international forces from combat operations to training, equipping, and support reflects the success of our strategic partnership and ensures support for the ongoing efforts of Iraqi forces to ensure that ISIS does not threaten Iraq's stability again.
The Iraqi government renewed its commitment to protect the personnel and convoys of the International Coalition and the diplomatic missions of its state. The two countries stressed that the bases in which the coalition members are present are Iraqi bases and they are present exclusively to support Iraq’s efforts in the war against ISIS . The two countries intend to continue the talks through a joint military committee to ensure that the operations of the international coalition are in line with the needs of the Iraqi security forces, including the Peshmerga forces.
As for higher education and scientific and cultural cooperation, the two governments discussed the United States' support for the efforts made by Iraq to promote higher education in cooperation with American universities through the Fulbright Program, the Higher Education Partnership Initiative of the US Embassy, and the expanded US support for the initiative. Universities in liberated areas (Liberated Universities Initiative).
The two countries also intend to identify additional ways to support Iraq's plans to reform higher education and strengthen university partnerships between Iraq and the United States. The two delegations reviewed the progress made in their joint efforts to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Iraq and the religious diversity, and affirmed their intention to cooperate to return the Iraqi cultural properties that were illegally introduced into the United States, to their rightful place in Iraq . An example of this is the Iraqi government's restoration, last August, of an archive of the outlawed Baath Party that was temporarily preserved in the Hoover Institute. The US State Department provided assistance in facilitating the procedures for transferring this archive, as the US Department of Defense transferred 6.5 million documents to Baghdad. The two countries condemned the criminal acts of the outlawed Baath Party against the Iraqi people.
The two countries discussed progress made with regard to a US grant to the Smithsonian Institute for the continuation and expansion of the Nimrud Rescue Project, in support of Iraq’s goals of preserving cultural heritage. The two delegations discussed the use of virtual exhibitions to spread the cultural and historical achievements of the Iraqi people around the world.
In conclusion, the two countries reaffirmed the importance of the strategic relationship between them and their determination to continue taking appropriate steps to enhance it in the interest of both countries and achieve security, stability and prosperity in the region. The United States also welcomed the opportunity to reconfirm and strengthen its partnership with Iraq .
The two governments are looking forward to further discussions on the aforementioned issues at the meeting of the High Coordination Committee for the Strategic Dialogue to be held at a later date.