The following is the text of a joint statement from the United States-Iraq Joint Coordinating Committee for Cultural and Educational Cooperation:
The United States of America and the Republic of Iraq are committed to expanding and strengthening education and cultural cooperation. Pursuant to the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) between the United States and Iraq, the Joint Coordinating Committee for Cultural and Educational Cooperation met Monday, February 21, 2012 for the second time. The Committee last met in March 2011 in Baghdad. Since then, we have continued to expand our joint efforts in the areas of higher education, primary and secondary education, cultural heritage, and youth and sports initiatives.
This latest meeting of the JCC for Cultural and Educational Cooperation, hosted at the U.S. Department of State, was co-chaired by Iraqi Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ali al-Adeeb and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock. The meeting of the JCC builds on efforts to strengthen the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq through academic and cultural exchanges and shared efforts to preserve the unique archeological heritage of Iraq.
Citing significant opportunities to send Iraqi students for advanced studies in the United States, the two sides stressed the importance of increased academic linkages and exchanges between the United States and Iraq as a key element in building a strong, productive bilateral relationship. They also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening ties between the Iraqi and American people through professional, educational and cultural exchanges and dialogue.
The delegations noted with satisfaction that the people-to-people ties between the U.S. and Iraq continue to grow stronger. Fulbright fellowships, the International Visitor Leadership Program, the Iraqi Young Leaders’ Exchange Program and other initiatives bring hundreds of Iraqi scholars, students, youth and professionals to the U.S. each year. Seven university linkages have been finalized and are actively promoting academic collaboration. Opportunities to learn English in Iraq are increasing, with the establishment of an Iraqi chapter of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in November 2011. Vital work to preserve the ancient site of Babylon continues through a major U.S. grant to the World Monuments Fund as well as support to education programs at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage, and bring a group of Iraqi graduate students to Washington, DC in the summer of 2012.
The U.S. side agreed to augment its student advising activities, including through EducationUSA college fairs modeled on the one held in Erbil in October 2011. These fairs support the Iraqi Government’s goal of having at least 25 percent of the Iraqis studying abroad enroll in U.S. colleges and universities.
The delegations stressed the importance of ongoing consultation and information exchange at all levels, and pledged to reconvene the JCC again this year to assess progress on its shared priorities.