Iraqi President Barham Salih, Joe Biden meet on the sidelines of UNGA

US President Joe Biden lauded Iraq’s contribution to regional stability and reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring Iraq’s long-term stability as the US combat mission in the country will end by 2022.

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Iraqi President Barham Salih and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, met on the sidelines of the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

The foreign ministers of Iraq and the United States, Fuad Hussein and Anthony Blinken, respectively, were also present in the meeting.

The two leaders “discussed strengthening the bilateral relationship and deepening cooperation on regional diplomatic initiatives” according to a readout from the White House. President Biden particularly commended Iraqi leadership on their efforts to launch the Baghdad Regional Summit which took place on August 28. He described the initiative as “an important symbol of Iraq’s contributions to regional stability.”

The sideline meeting comes as Iraq plans to hold early elections on October 10. The elections, which will be the first since widespread protests erupted across the country in October 2019. The protests resulted in the resignation of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and the dissolution of his government. Holding early elections was a key demand during the protests.

Regarding the election agenda, President Biden reaffirmed US support for holding credible and transparent elections in October. The United States pledged a $5.2 million grant to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) to support its elections monitoring activities in late August, US Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield confirmed.

For their part, the Iraqi Presidency issued a statement that stipulated the two sides discussed the ways to strengthen bilateral relations in the framework of the strategic dialogue.

On July 26, President Biden had met Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi as part of the fourth round of strategic dialogues and announced the US would end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year.

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