UK and Iraq hold strategic dialogue to strengthen bilateral cooperation

UK and Iraq hold strategic dialogue to strengthen bilateral cooperation

Shafaq News / Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, James Cleverly, hosted Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein for the British-Iraqi Strategic Dialogue held in London on July 3-4, 2023.

In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the dialogue, the two sides highlighted that this strategic dialogue builds upon the foundations of the British-Iraqi Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in Baghdad in June 2021, which has enhanced bilateral cooperation and reaffirmed the United Kingdom's commitment to the long-term security, stability, and sovereignty of Iraq. Furthermore, this strategic dialogue follows the visit of the UK Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Lord Ahmad, to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq from February 28 to March 2, 2023.

The strategic dialogue emphasized the strength and breadth of the bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Iraq, with both governments reaffirming their commitment to working together in their regional and global interests. The ministers agreed to enhance and expand cooperation in a wide range of sectors, including:

The ministers discussed the importance of economic reforms for building a prosperous future for the Iraqi people, and the UK's commitment to supporting Iraq - including through the Economic Contact Group for Iraq - as it undertakes significant long-term reforms to stabilize its economy and society.

Both sides welcomed Iraq's ambitious economic reform agenda and recognized the urgency of achieving non-oil-dependent growth, providing employment opportunities in the private sector, and improving access to financing for businesses. They also emphasized the importance of Iraq's expeditious accession to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 2023 and continued close collaboration with the International Monetary Fund on a long-term program to support Iraq, in addition to joining other international financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank.

According to the joint statement, the United Kingdom committed to sharing its expertise through government-to-government exchanges, bilateral support, and technical assistance to advance economic reforms in key areas such as economic capacity development, diversification of government revenues, improvement of financing for businesses, and facilitating Iraq's accession to the World Trade Organization.

Regarding trade, with the increase in trade volume between the two countries, the sixth meeting of the UK-Iraq Trade Council was held, following the fifth meeting in Baghdad in January 2019. Experts discussed ways to encourage further investment in Iraq and how to overcome trade barriers. Additionally, the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs met with several leading British companies to explore new business opportunities.

The two sides agreed on their determination to conclude the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the United Kingdom and Iraq as soon as possible, and to present it to their respective parliaments in the current year.

In the context of climate and environment, ahead of the upcoming 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) later this year, the ministers discussed the importance of working together to address climate change and environmental challenges. They agreed to enhance high-level communication between the two countries throughout the remainder of 2023. Both sides welcomed the support provided by the United Kingdom to increase the development and strengthening of Iraq's nationally determined contributions. The United Kingdom also offered technical assistance, including collaboration with the UK Met Office to enhance Iraq's preparedness and response to sand and dust storms.

In defense and security, the ministers emphasized the importance of continued efforts to deny ISIS space in Iraq, and welcomed the commitment of the United Kingdom and Iraq to support the international coalition against ISIS. They also welcomed the Iraqi government's commitment to protecting coalition headquarters and diplomatic mission buildings in Iraq.

The ministers expressed their appreciation for the vital efforts made by both sides.

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