Iraqi prime minister to meet Biden in Washington this month

File – Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Photo: PM office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi will pay a visit to the United States this month, Sky News reported on Saturday.

A source in the prime minister’s office told Sky News Arabia that Kadhimi had received an invitation from the U.S. two weeks ago to visit Washington at the end of this month.

The Iraqi premier will hold talks with U.S. President Joe Biden, the source said.

“The agenda of the visit is not yet defined, but the issue of completing the strategic dialogue and ways to solve outstanding issues will be at the top of talks,” the source added.

Iraq and the United States began their strategic dialogue in June 2020 under former U.S. President Donald Trump administration.

In the third round of talks in April, the United States agreed to remove remaining combat forces deployed to fight Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq.

According to the Pentagon, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has dropped to about 2,500 over the past months.

Kadhimi and Biden are also expected to discuss electricity, agriculture, education and culture exchange, according to the source.

Kadhimi’s visit to Washington comes as U.S. forces stationed in Iraq come under continuous rocket and drone attacks.

The attacks have increased since the United States carried out airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups last week.

U.S. diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria were targeted in three rocket and drone attacks in the past 24 hours, including at least 14 rockets hitting Iraq’s Ain al-Asad air base hosting U.S. forces.

The rocket attack on the Iraqi base wounded two American service members, according to U.S. officials.

Iraqi army officials said the pace of recent attacks against bases hosting U.S. forces with rockets and explosive-laden drones was unprecedented.

While there were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks analysts believed they were part of a campaign by Iranian-backed militias.

Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran vowed to retaliate after U.S. strikes on the Iraqi-Syrian border killed four of their members last month.

The United States told the U.N. Security Council last week that it targeted Iranian-backed militia in Syria and Iraq with air strikes to deter them and Tehran from conducting or supporting further attacks on U.S. personnel or facilities.

Iran denied supporting attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria and condemned U.S. air strikes on Iranian-backed groups.

Republicans have criticized Biden’s “bare minimum” approach, saying that his two retaliatory strikes have failed to deter the militia groups.

“Iran-backed militias’ continued assault on U.S. personnel in Iraq cannot be tolerated,” Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told POLITICO.

“President Biden must put forward a real strategy for deterring and ending these attacks, rather than continuing his bare-minimum, tit-for-tat approach that is failing to deter Iran or its militias and puts American lives at increased risk.”

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