Iraqi Foreign Minister, US Secretary of State discuss new prime minister’s visit to Washington, among other topics

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced that Iraq’s new Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein spoke by telephone with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Tuesday.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced that Iraq’s new Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein spoke by telephone with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Tuesday.

“The two sides discussed ways to develop joint cooperation between Baghdad and Washington in various fields and encourage investment in all sectors, including the oil sector, and infrastructure,” Ahmad al-Sahaf, Spokesperson for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.

According to the statement, Hussein, Iraq’s first Kurdish foreign minister, since Hoshyar Zebari held that post from 2003 to 2014, stressed that Iraq seeks to build balanced relations with all countries of the world and abide by the principles of: non-interference in internal affairs; respect for the sovereignty of Iraq; working towards common interests; and maintaining the impartiality of Iraqi decision-making.

The statement also explained that Iraq’s new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, is slated to visit Washington, “if the health situation is suitable.”

For his part, Pompeo stressed that “the United States is happy with the initial results of the Strategic Dialogue,” and expressed his hope “for the continuation of these dialogues.”

He also affirmed “the US government’s respect for the sovereignty of Iraq, its support for Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government, and the provision of economic support.”

The US readout of the conversation explained that Pompeo had also “congratulated Foreign Minister Hussein on his new role,” while affirming that he “looks forward to working together to advance issues of mutual importance.”

“Secretary Pompeo also congratulated the Iraqi government for completing its government formation,” the US statement added, noting that both sides agreed that the Strategic Dialogue “was an opportunity for the two countries to strengthen ties.”

The first session of the Strategic Dialogue between the US and Iraq was held last Thursday to expand relations between the two countries beyond the military dimension. The two-hour long meeting, held by video conference, was largely a formality, intended to prepare the way for further discussions.

Speaking to Kurdistan 24, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus explained that the US wants to broaden ties with Iraq—to go beyond just the military relationship—and move “to the next level.”

Read More: State Dept: US supports democracy in Iraq

“Now, we’re incredibly focused also on the diplomatic, the political relationship,” she said, adding there is also an emerging “economic and financial relationship” involving private sector US companies.

On June 6, Iraq’s parliament approved the appointment of Dr. Fuad Hussein as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Hussein was Finance Minister from 2018 until 2019 in the previous Iraqi government, headed by Adil Abdul Mahdi.

Originally from Khanaqin, Hussein became deputy head of the Kurdish Institute of Paris in 1987. He held that position until returning to Iraq in 2003, following the initial phase of the US-led war that overthrew Saddam Hussein and his regime.

He then became Deputy Minister of Education in the new Iraqi government, and in that capacity, he organized the preparation of new “debaathized” textbooks for Iraq’s schools. He subsequently moved to the Kurdistan Region, where he became Chief of Staff for then President Masoud Barzani, a post he held until the Iraqi elections of 2018.

Editing by Laurie Mylroie