According to the Iraqi foreign minister, days after statements attributed to him that the prime minister will visit the United States soon.
Ibrahim Al-Khazen / Anatolia
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein announced on Sunday that the visit of his country’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa Al-Sudani to Washington is “not on the table now.”
This statement was made by Hussein to the Saudi channel “Al-Arabiya”, days after statements attributed to him in Iraqi and Arab media that Al-Sudani’s visit to Washington is near.
Local media, including the “Baghdad Today” website (non-governmental), also quoted informed sources recently that Hussein will soon travel to Washington to arrange the procedures for the Sudanese visit and meet with US President Joe Biden.
“We need regional and Gulf countries and we are not on an isolated island,” Hussein said in remarks on Sunday. And I need the United States and work with it.”
Without giving reasons, he said that “the prime minister’s visit to Washington is not on the table now.”
As of 14:00 GMT, Washington had not been briefed on the prospects for the Sudanese to visit.
“The national interest determines the policy of relations with others,” Hussein stressed.
After a political crisis that lasted about a year, al-Sudani formed at the end of last October a government led by the “Coordinating Framework” coalition, which includes political wings of Shiite armed forces allied to Iran.
On Thursday, the American Wall Street Journal reported that Al-Sudani intends to send a high-level delegation to Washington for talks with US officials, expressing his hope that relations between Iraq and the United States will become like those between the latter and Saudi Arabia, for example.
Hussein told Al-Arabiya that “the tension between America and Iran affects us and we need to ease it,” pointing out that “Europe has become more hawkish towards Iran.”
Regional and Western capitals, led by Washington and Riyadh, accuse Iran of having an expansionist agenda in the region and interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries, including Iraq, while Tehran says it adheres to the principles of good neighborliness.
On the presence of foreign forces, especially American forces in Iraq, Hussein said that “there are no foreign combat forces in Iraq,” and “the forces of the international coalition (to fight the terrorist organization ISIS) have turned into an advisory role.”
Iraqi forces allied to Tehran are pressing the Sudanese government to remove foreign forces from Iraq, especially after Washington killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Authority Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in an airstrike around Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.
Two days after this raid, the Iraqi Council of Representatives adopted a resolution obliging the government of then-Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi to remove all foreign forces from Iraq.
But the government later announced the shift of the tasks of those forces from fighting to advising and training Iraqi forces to prevent the return of ISIS.
On Iraq’s relationship with its neighbor Saudi Arabia, Hussein stressed that it has “become strong.”
On the economic front, he acknowledged that “there was dollar smuggling from the Iraqi market.”
Al-Sudani recently relieved central bank governor Mustafa Ghaleb Shib from his duties, after the Wall Street Journal quoted US sources as saying that there is money laundering of dollars and transferring them to Iran and other countries in the Middle East that are subject to US sanctions.