US, Iraq officials to make statement urging troop withdrawal
"We don't need any more fighters because we have those," Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told The Wall Street Journal.
"What do we need? We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air," he added.
Senior officials from Baghdad were in Washington on Thursday for preliminary talks on the US military presence in Iraq, ahead of an upcoming meeting between leaders of the two countries, the Pentagon said in a statement.
US President Joe Biden is set to host Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House on Monday. Kadhimi is expected to push for a concrete timetable of foreign troop withdrawal.
On Thursday, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Mara Karlin hosted Iraqi National Security Advisor Qassem al-Araji and a military delegation, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
Both sides "reaffirmed the importance of the US-Iraq bilateral security relationship" as well as "the long-term US-Iraq security cooperation partnership and areas for cooperation beyond counterterrorism."
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin joined the group to reaffirm his support for "the US-Iraq strategic partnership."
Talks are set to resume on Friday.
Some 3,500 foreign troops are in Iraqi territory, including 2,500 Americans, who have been posted to help fight the Islamic State group since 2014.
The implementation of their withdrawal could take years.
Iraq, long an arena for bitter rivalry between the US and Iran despite their shared enmity towards the IS, has seen growing numbers of rocket and drone attacks on US targets in recent months.
Last week, Iraq's leader met with visiting US envoy Brett McGurk in Baghdad to discuss foreign troop withdrawal, his office said in a statement.