US MENA coordinator, Iraqi PM talk troop withdrawal
White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad on Thursday with the subject of foreign troop withdrawal from Iraq discussed, Kadhimi's office said.
The meeting was a precursor to the upcoming fourth round of the Iraq-US strategic dialogue.
The withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq has been discussed throughout the dialogue, which began during the Trump administration.
The US withdrew from Iraq in 2011, eight years after the invasion of Iraq. US troops were invited back to the country in 2014 as the Islamic State (IS) group grew in strength.
Calls for the withdrawal of American and other foreign troops loudened after the US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and deputy commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad last year.
Some Western troops were pulled out of the country or restationed elsewhere in the months following the assassination, because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the handover of control of some bases to the Iraqi security forces.
There has been an increase in rocket and drone attacks on sites of US diplomatic and military interest in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks. Iran-backed militias have been blamed for the attacks.
The US conducted airstrikes on Iran-backed militia facilities on the Iraq-Syria border earlier this month, killing four fighters from the PMF's Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada brigade.
Iraqi Kurdistan's regional government does not want the US-led Coalition to leave the country, current and former Kurdish officials in Baghdad told The New Arab's sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Kadhimi will head to Washington to meet US President Joe Biden at the end of July.
On Wednesday, Iran's intelligence minister arrived in Baghdad, in a visit that was not officially announced by Iraq.