Tamim meets with Blinken as Iraq seeks to expand economic ties with U.S.

Tamim meets with Blinken as Iraq seeks to expand economic ties with U.S.

Shafaq News/ Planning Minister Mohammed Tamim on Monday reiterated the Iraqi government's commitment to expanding economic and international partnerships with the United States.

"The Iraqi government warns against the widening escalation and calls for restraint," Tamim said during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"Today, we are focusing on the agriculture, industry, investment, and energy sectors. The Iraqi government is working to expand its economic and international partnerships and invest in gas," he added.

Blinken, for his part, praised the outcomes of his recent meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, and said his visit to Washington is an important step towards developing relations between the two countries.

Sudani's trip to Washington, his first since taking office in October 2022, was originally expected to focus on the presence of US troops in Iraq as part of an anti-ISIS coalition.

But the meeting will now be dominated by the fractious situation in the region after Iraq's neighbor Iran launched a massive missile and drone assault on Israel on Saturday.

US forces based near the northern Iraq city of Erbil were involved in the operation to counter Iran's attack on Israel, using a Patriot missile battery to shoot down an Iranian ballistic missile.

Iraq has been trying to stay out of regional tensions amid the six-month war waged by Israel against Iran-backed Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza, following Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel.

Armed groups linked to Iran, including some based in Iraq, have since carried out a series of attacks on facilities belonging to the United States, which is Israel's main ally.

Iraq, hoping not to be consumed by US-Iran hostility, strongly protested a US drone strike in February that killed an Iraqi paramilitary leader, carried out in retaliation for an attack that killed three US service members in Jordan.

But tensions have since subsided between Washington and Baghdad, and they resumed talks on the future of the US-led coalition.

Iraqi authorities have voiced hope for drawing up a timeline to reduce the presence of US forces.

A US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 toppled former President Saddam Hussein, but Washington withdrew most of its troops by 2011. However, the US forces were redeployed in 2014 as part of a campaign to defeat the Islamic State extremist group, better known as ISIS, which had seized vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The United States currently has some 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in neighboring Syria as part of the coalition.

Shafaq Live
Shafaq Live
Radio radio icon