US approves possible sale of aircraft support to Iraq; Baghdad wants more

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The US approved the possible sale of aircraft support to Iraq, the Pentagon said Monday, the same day that Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani made his first official visit to Washington.

The Pentagon said in a statement that the $140 million sale will include support and training for Iraq’s C-172 and AC/RC-208 aircraft.

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This news was published as Sudani and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin met at the Defense Department. His meeting with Austin came hours after he had separate meetings with US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The Pentagon said Monday’s sale will support the US foreign policy and national security “by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner.” Northrop Grumman will be the principal contractor.

US officials familiar with the matter told Al Arabiya English that the Iraqi premier was seeking more counter-drone systems for Baghdad.

Sudani’s inaugural visit to the US coincides with crucial discussions between Washington and Baghdad regarding the future of American forces in Iraq. However, the primary objective of his trip is to foster increased US economic engagement in Iraq. Notably, no military officials are part of Sudani’s delegation, underscoring the focus on economic cooperation.

Sudani met with Amos Hochstein, a senior advisor to the US president for energy and investment, on Sunday.

Sudani is also scheduled to meet with American energy companies in Houston, the chairman of JP Morgan Bank, and the president of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. These meetings are aimed at fostering economic ties and exploring investment opportunities.

Other meetings scheduled include top National Security Council officials, deputy secretary of the US Treasury, secretary of Homeland Security, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Tim Kaine, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

Before Sudani leaves on Friday, he is expected to visit Michigan and meet with the Iraqi diaspora.

Read more: US officials say military shot down Iranian drones headed for Israel

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