US foreign policy

Biden has first phone call with Iraq PM, second to a Middle East leader

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US President Joe Biden had his first phone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Tuesday, a tweet from the latter said.

In what was one of the first calls to a Middle East leader, Biden and al-Kadhimi spoke of the need to continue the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue “to serve as a roadmap for the future.”

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“We reaffirmed our commitment to bolstering Iraqi-US ties for the benefit of our peoples and cooperation in fighting Daesh to ensure regional peace and stability,” the Iraqi premier tweeted.

US troops and allied personnel have come under attack on at least three different occasions in Iraq over the last week.

On Monday, the Green Zone in Baghdad, home to the US Embassy and several other Western embassies, was targeted by a rocket attack. No injuries or causalities were reported.

The attack came after four rockets hit Al Balad Airbase, where US companies operate.

Perhaps the most noteworthy attack was the Feb. 15 incident where at least 14 rockets struck near Iraq’s Erbil Airport in the country’s Kurdistan region. A civilian contractor, who was not a US citizen, was killed, and several others were injured. It was one of the most significant strikes on US-led coalition forces in the last year and the worst strike since US Biden took office.

A pro-Iran Shia group claimed the attack, while Tehran denied any links to the strike.

Iraqi analysts welcomed Tuesday’s call as the Biden administration reportedly does not see the Middle East as a priority.

This was Biden’s second call to a Middle East leader after last week’s call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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