Biden holds successful talks with Iraqi PM, teases journalist after meeting

14:25, 27 July 2021
Biden holds successful talks with Iraqi PM, teases journalist after meeting Photo: Tommy Avilucea/U.S. Air Force/

The countries have come to an accord over US troops' mission in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and US President Joe Biden met this Monday in the Oval Office where they assented to finish the US combat mission in the region by the end of the year.

Joe Biden has called the decision a new phase in the bilateral relations adding that the cooperation against terrorism will continue but from now on in terms of advising and education. 

"Our role in Iraq will be ... It’s just to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS as it arrives, but we’re not going to be brought, in here in a combat mission."

A press statement released by the US State Department assures respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and laws. The country pledges to continue providing the resources Iraq needs to preserve its territorial integrity. Both countries also affirmed the desire to maintain and strengthen the strategic relationship and engaged in keeping contact via coordinating committees.

The Iraqi PM said that the US-Iraq relationship was stronger than ever and expressed eagerness to work with the US to reach the bilateral benefit.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi has recently faced rising pressure from Iran-aligned parties and paramilitary groups who stand against the current US role in Iraq. The meeting comes three months before the legislative elections in the country.

There are approximately 2,500 US troops in Iraq at the moment. Most US troops sent to Iraq in 2014 presumably in order to help Bagdad fight against ISIS have been withdrawn from Iraq under Donald Trump.

Earlier, a coalition led by the US invaded Iraq in March 2003 claiming charges that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Hussein was forced to leave the position, but the presumed weapons were never found.

Biden’s decision follows the announcementof US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan thus putting an end to the US participation in two combat missions launched by George W. Bush.

Post-talks meeting with an ‘old friend’

The event was also marked by an incident with one of the journalists.

After the negotiations, President Biden was answering journalists’ questions, predominantly about US-Iraq relations, but NBC journalist Kelly O'Donnell asked about compulsory vaccination against COVID at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Biden responded with a slight smile on his face “You are such a pain in the neck, but I'm going to answer your question because we've known each other so long.”

O'Donnell was not offended and assured that she took it as a compliment.

The journalist worked as a White House correspondent under four administrations.

Concerning the question, Biden has confirmed that the Veterans Affairs will be the first US institution to introduce mandatory vaccination for health workers. However, the President did not reveal any further plans for compulsory jabs.

*ISIS, also known as ISIL, Islamic State, or Daesh is a terror organization banned on the territory of the Russian Federation and many other countries.