‘The time is now’ for US-Iraq talks on strategic partnership: US official

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The US and Iraq should reengage in talks over their strategic partnership, said Joey Hood, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the US State Department.

“The time is now for the United States and Iraq to sit down and talk about recommitting to the strategic partnership, on the diplomatic level, the financial level, the economic level, and the security level as well,” said Hood, in an interview with Al Arabiya’s Washington Bureau Chief Nadia Bilbassy.

US-Iraqi ties are under strain following the Iraqi Parliament’s request for US troops to leave the country in the aftermath of the US airstrike which killed Iran commander Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad.

The US currently has an estimated 5,000-6,000 troops stationed in the country.

“It’s not time to be talking about withdrawal,” said Hood.

He added that he hoped Iraqi political parties would come together to nominate a suitable prime minister. Caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi resigned in late November during nationwide protests.

“We hope that the Iraqi political parties will come together very quickly to nominate and approve a strong prime minister who has full control over his cabinet, full control over the security forces, and can help us make a strong, sovereign, stable, and prosperous Iraqi government, and country of Iraq,” he said.

Hood previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq and in Kuwait, as well as Consul General and Principal Officer in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

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