The U.S. on Wednesday committed to move remaining forces from Iraq, although the two sides did not set a timeline in what would be the second withdrawal since the 2003 invasion.
The first “strategic dialogue” with Iraq under U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration comes as Iranian-linked Shiite paramilitary groups fire rockets nearly daily at bases with foreign troops in hopes of forcing a U.S. exit. The two nations agreed in a videoconference led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein that Iraqi forces were ready to take on more responsibility.
“The parties confirmed that the mission of U.S. and coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, with the timing to be established in upcoming technical talks,” a joint statement said.
Iraq’s national security advisor, Qassem al-Araji, promised efforts to protect foreign forces and confirmed that the United States would move ahead with a pullout. “The American side promised to withdraw an important number of its troops from Iraq,” he said.
The Pentagon said the timeline would be worked out in the technical talks. “We’ve all been working to an eventual redeployment ... when there’s no need for American support on the ground,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.