The Governments of the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America reaffirmed their strategic partnership during a meeting of the Political and Diplomatic Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on August 15, in Washington, DC.
This meeting, held at the Department of State, was co-chaired by Secretary Kerry and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. This is the fourth meeting of the Political and Diplomatic JCC since it was established by the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) to strengthen the U.S.-Iraq bilateral and strategic partnership.
The United States offered its full support for Iraq’s efforts to strengthen ties within the region. Since the last meeting of this JCC, Iraq and Kuwait made impressive strides before the United Nations, resumed commercial flights between Kuwait City and Baghdad, and completed maintenance of the border pillars along their shared border. The United States was proud to support these diplomatic achievements, which required difficult decisions on both the Iraqi and Kuwaiti sides and have contributed to regional peace and stability.
The United States further reiterated its strong support for Iraq’s efforts to increase and deepen dialogue with other regional partners, and emphasized the importance of working together to bolster moderate forces and isolate extremists in the region. The United States also congratulated Iraq on the strong participation by Iraqi Security Forces in joint regional military exercises, such as the recently completed Eager Lion exercise in Jordan. The United States further affirmed its strong commitment to help the Government of Iraq defeat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that continue to threaten Iraq and the entire Middle East region.
During the meeting, the delegations discussed international efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Syria and explored areas of potential cooperation, particularly on humanitarian issues and consultation on border security to prevent the infiltration of terrorist groups into Iraq. Both sides affirmed their commitment to a Syrian-led political transition leading to a pluralistic political system representing the will of the Syrian people. The United States emphasized the importance of providing refuge and services to those fleeing the violence in Syria. The Iraqi side further reiterated its commitment to deter the transit of weapons through its territory and welcomed in this regard the recent notification to the U.S. Congress of the potential Iraqi purchase of an integrated air defense system to fully protect its sovereign airspace.
Both delegations emphasized their commitment to close and ongoing security cooperation, noting in this regard the Memorandum of Understanding on security cooperation signed at the Defense and Security JCC in December 2012, the inaugural U.S.-Iraq Joint Military Committee (JMC) hosted by U.S. Central Command in June 2013, and the more than $14 billion in equipment, services, and training purchased by Iraq for its military and security forces through the Foreign Military Sales program. Both delegations pledged to enhance this cooperation in pursuit of their joint interests in denying terrorists a safe haven anywhere within Iraqi territory.
The United States noted the provincial elections held in Iraq earlier this year and discussed Iraq’s plans for national elections scheduled for 2014. The United States pledged to assist Iraqi implementation of this next essential step in the development of Iraq’s democracy, noting its commitment under the SFA to Iraq’s democratic development.
The delegations also discussed President Obama’s decision to extend extraordinary protections for the Development Fund for Iraq and emphasized the close partnership that exists between Iraq and the United States on macro-economic issues. The Iraqi side affirmed its commitment to resolve outstanding claims over the coming months to set the conditions for those extraordinary protections to expire in 2014. The two sides also discussed the issue of energy diplomacy and the importance to Iraq and to the global economy of ensuring a steady and redundant supply of energy resources to global markets. This topic will be addressed in further detail at the next Energy JCC to be held pursuant to the Strategic Framework Agreement later this year.
The United States praised the Government of Iraq in passing anti-trafficking legislation and pledged its continued support for the Government of Iraq’s efforts to combat trafficking in persons as well as security for all Iraqis.
The United States and the Republic of Iraq committed to continue discussions of these issues through working groups and to convene the next Political and Diplomatic JCC in Baghdad.