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Iraq reportedly requests fresh talks with US on troop withdrawal

Washington recently received a formal request from the Iraqi government to resume talks regarding the withdrawal of remaining US troops in Iraq,  the Associated Press (AP) reported on Tuesday.

Three government officials said Iraq sent a formal request to the US, reportedly via US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller, requesting a new round of talks on bilateral issues, specifically on the withdrawal of the some 2,500 troops left in the country.

No date has been set but Iraq hopes to hold the talks in April, AP added.

This round of talks will be the first of its kind during the administration of the current US President Joe Biden. Dialogue began under the administration of former President Donald Trump last June.

The United States has reduced the number of its troops in Iraq to 2,500, according to a statement released by the Department of Defense in January, having withdrawn from several coalition bases across the country.

US forces have come under repeated attack since Washington’s assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a January 2020 airstrike, also killing Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the Iraqi deputy of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi).

Militias close to Tehran often carry out attacks on US and international sites in Iraq, including the US embassy in Baghdad and Iraqi military bases hosting coalition troops.

Iraq’s parliament passed a non-binding resolution in favour of expelling foreign troops after the US assassinations.

Despite Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s attempts to improve Iraq’s foreign relations, particularly with the US, some Shiite parties take a flagrantly hostile stance to this rapprochement and insist on expelling US forces from Iraq.