The US agreed to withdraw its remaining combat forces from Iraq, a joint statement following the “strategic dialogue” between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein said on Wednesday.
“US forces are in Iraq at the invitation of Iraqi Government to support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in their fight against ISIS,” the statement read.
“Based on the increasing capacity of the ISF, the parties confirmed that the mission of U.S. 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.
Joint statement on the U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue. security section 3rd pic pic.twitter.com/4i0pGFD0XQ
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) April 7, 2021
On his part, Blinken affirmed on Twitter that it was a privilege to speak with Hussein at his first U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue as Secretary of State.
Moreover, Blinken added that he is “optimistic about the road ahead after the review of the progress we’ve made in each area of our broad and strategic partnership.”
It was a privilege to speak with Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr. Fuad Hussein at my first U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue as Secretary of State. I'm optimistic about the road ahead after the review of the progress we've made in each area of our broad and strategic partnership. pic.twitter.com/Z6HozvRZRk
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) April 7, 2021
Hussein and Blinken agreed to “continue bilateral security coordination and cooperation” between the US and Iraq, stressing that “the bases on which US and Coalition personnel are present are Iraqi bases and their presence is solely in support of Iraq’s effort in the fight against ISIS.”
U.S. President Joe Biden was seeking to withdraw US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan; however, he has previously stated that it would be “tough” to meet a May 1 deadline to withdraw all remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan.