US, Iraq Reaffirm Continued Security Cooperation
While Washington and Baghdad failed in specifying a date for US forces exiting Iraq, the two countries were able to focus on key issues like healthcare, investment, security, energy, education and counterterrorism during their third round of strategic dialogue.
In a joint statement on the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue released by the US State Department, both Washington and Baghdad reaffirmed the principles agreed upon by the two countries in the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), which was signed in 2008.
“The US reaffirmed its respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and relevant decisions of the Iraqi legislative and executive authorities,” read the statement.
It also said that the Iraqi delegation included representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and was led by Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, while the US delegation was led by State Secretary Anthony Blinken.
In the security and counterterrorism discussion, the US and Iraq reiterated their mutual intention to continue bilateral security coordination and cooperation and stressed that US forces are in Iraq at the invitation of Iraqi Government to support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in their fight against ISIS.
The two sides “reaffirmed their mutual intention to continue bilateral security coordination and cooperation,” stressing that the redeployment of the US and coalition forces is based on "the increasing capacity of the Iraqi forces.”
“The mission of US and coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, with the timing to be established in upcoming technical talks,” the statement added.
“The transition of US and other international forces away from combat operations to training, equipping, and assisting the ISF reflects the success of their strategic partnership and ensures support to the ISF’s continued efforts to ensure ISIS can never again threaten Iraq’s stability.”
The Iraqi government in turn committed to protecting the international coalition personnel, convoys, and diplomatic facilities, it said, adding that the two sides emphasized that the current military bases, on which US and coalition personnel are present, are Iraqi bases and their presence is only for supporting Iraq's efforts in the fight against ISIS.