Al-Kadhimi says no need for US combat troops in Iraq

TEHRAN, Jul. 25 (MNA) – Before leaving for Washington, the Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi said Baghdad does not need US combat troops to fight ISIL.

His comments came in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press ahead of a planned trip to Washington, where he’s slated to meet with President Joe Biden on Monday for the fourth round of strategic talks.

“There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil,” said al-Kadhimi, falling short of announcing a deadline for a US troop departure.

Iraq’s security forces and army are capable of defending the country without US-led coalition troops, he said.

But al-Kadhimi said any withdrawal schedule would be based on the needs of Iraqi forces, who have shown themselves capable in the last year of conducting independent anti-ISIL missions.

“The war against ISIL and the readiness of our forces require a special timetable, and this depends on the negotiations that we will conduct in Washington,” he said.

“What we want from the US presence in Iraq is to support our forces in training and developing their efficiency and capabilities, and in security cooperation,” al-Kadhimi said.

“Iraq has a set of American weapons that need maintenance and training. We will ask the American side to continue to support our forces and develop our capabilities,” al-Kadhimi added.

“We are in a sensitive situation. We need to calm the political situation until we reach the elections,” he said.

Elsewhere, the Iraqi PM said: “Iraq has succeeded in gaining the trust of these countries [Iran and Saudi Arabia], and accordingly, it is working toward the stability of the region.”

The US troop presence has stood at about 2,500 since late last year when former President Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000.

HJ/FNA

News Code 176527

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