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President Biden is holding talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the White House today.

The primary agenda for Biden and al-Sudani will be enhancing private sector investment and energy security in Iraq. However, the presence of approximately 2,500 US troops in Iraq will inevitably be addressed, given ongoing deliberations on their necessity for countering ISIS threats. “It is not the primary focus of the visit,” a senior State Department official stated, “But it is almost certainly going to come up.”


This meeting also comes during a notably strained period in the Middle East, further complicated by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which has drastically affected regional dynamics. The situation is exacerbated by continued attacks by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea and recent escalations involving Iran and Iranian-backed proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Despite these challenges, administration officials say discussions on the future role of US forces in Iraq are crucial. Questions remain regarding the capability of Iraqi security forces, trained by the US, to independently handle the persistent threat posed by ISIS. The leaders are also set to explore a new phase of US-Iraq relations, focusing on broader cooperation beyond military and security issues.

This comes as al-Sudani recently hinted at his stance on the future of US troops in Iraq in a commentary in the Foreign Affairs magazine. He said, “We approach every country on equal terms, so that Iraq does not become an arena for any outside actor to settle scores. Iraq must be dealt with on the basis of sovereignty and mutual respect, not as a proxy for other conflicts.”


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