PREVIEW - Biden, Iraqi Prime Minister To Discuss Future Of US Role In Iraq

PREVIEW - Biden, Iraqi Prime Minister to Discuss Future of US Role in Iraq

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 26th July, 2021) US President Joe Biden is hosting a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi on Monday to discuss the role the United States will play in Iraq as efforts continue to fight the Islamic State terror group (banned in Russia).

Last week, Politico reported, citing sources familiar with the matter, that the United States and Iraq were finalizing plans for the US to end its combat mission in the country and shift to an advisory role by the end of this year. The 2,500 US personnel will remain in Iraq to provide the government's security forces with advisory and logistical support as well as intelligence and surveillance capabilities and air power, according to Politico. The plan is expected to be announced on Monday following the meeting between Biden and Kadhimi, the outlet said.

There have been a number of high-level talks between US and Iraqi officials over the last month to lay the groundwork for Monday's meeting.

On Friday, Iraq's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the margins of the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue held in Washington. The two sides reaffirmed the principles agreed to between the two countries in the Strategic Framework Agreement and Blinken reiterated that the United States remains committed to assisting Iraq in achieving a secure and stable future.

On Thursday, US and Iraqi defense officials met at the Defense Department to discuss the presence of US forces in Iraq. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Iraqi National Security Adviser Qassem al Araji participated in the meeting.

Moreover, prior to the high-level meetings between US and Iraqi officials, the Biden administration hosted leaders of Iraq's neighboring countries: Jordan's King Abdullah and Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defense Minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi met earlier this month with a US delegation led by Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the middle East and North Africa, and discussed the future of bilateral cooperation as well as the mechanisms for troop withdrawal from Iraq and the transition to a new phase of strategic cooperation.

US forces and diplomatic facilities in Iraq have been attacked by alleged Iran-backed militia groups several times over the last several months. Two soldiers were injured when militants fired rockets at the Ain Al-Assad Air Base, which hosts coalition troops.

In January 2020, Iraqi lawmakers voted to have all foreign troops leave the country and revise cooperation with the US-led anti-terrorist coalition. The coalition has since handed over to Iraqi troops a range of military bases where American forces used to be stationed.

The Biden administration already made a decision to draw down troops in Afghanistan, with the pullout is expected to be complete by the end of August, in order to pivot the United States' focus from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region to confront challenges presented by China in the region.