Iraqi Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, to meet US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, ahead of Biden-Kadhimi summit

Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Fuad Hussein. (Photo: Archive)
Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Fuad Hussein. (Photo: Archive)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – State Department Spokesperson Ned Price announced on Monday that Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Fuad Hussein, would meet the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, in advance of the meeting that US President Joe Biden will hold with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on the following Monday.

The meetings are part of the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, which was begun in June 2020, under the previous administration, which held two sessions.

Read More: The US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue: Good news for the Kurdistan Region

The upcoming meetings will be the second such set of discussions under the Biden administration and the first to be held in person, rather than virtually.

Kadhimi last visited Washington in September 2020, as part of the Strategic Dialogue under former President Donald Trump. Hussein was also a member of that delegation and met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Joe Biden was inaugurated as America’s 45th president on January 20, 2021. Eight days later, just two days after he was sworn in as Secretary of State—Blinken spoke with Hussein, underscoring the importance that the Biden administration places on its dealings with Iraq.

Blinken and Hussein “discussed [the] follow-up to the Strategic Dialogue and reaffirmed the principles agreed upon by the two sides in the Strategic Framework Agreement,” according to the US read-out of their conversation.

Read More: US Secretary of State calls Iraqi Foreign Minister, as Ambassador meets senior Kurdish officials

The two officials spoke again in April, as the Biden administration renewed the Strategic Dialogue. After that conversation, Blinken tweeted, “I’m optimistic about the road ahead after the review of the progress we've made in each area of our broad and strategic partnership.”

Hussein, speaking to journalists in Baghdad, for his part, called on the US “to strengthen the Iraqi-American partnership through memoranda and agreements between the two countries.”

Read More: Baghdad eager to 'strengthen the Iraqi-American partnership'

Hussein will, presumably, express a similar position, when he sees Blinken on Friday, and Blinken will, presumably, repeat his, as little has changed since April. This will be their first face-to-face meeting, at least in their current capacities.

Dr. Hussein has been Iraq’s Foreign Minister since June 2020, when Kadhimi appointed him to that position. Before assuming that post, he was Iraq’s Finance Minister under the previous prime minister, Adil Abdul Mahdi, who was obliged to step down in May 2020 in the face of ongoing protests—primarily in Iraq’s southern, Shia-dominated provinces.

Hussein was Chief of Staff for 12 years to the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, before Barzani resigned from that position in late 2017, following the Kurdistan independence referendum.

Hussein is originally from Khanaqin and has long worked for the Kurdish cause. Decades ago, Hussein, as a young man, fought with Mustafa Barzani against Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Following the 1975 Algiers Accord between the Shah of Iran and Saddam, the Kurdish revolt collapsed. The Shah had been supporting Iraq’s Kurds; Iraq had been supporting Iran’s Baluch, and the two leaders agreed to abandon both, as they split their riverine border.

Barzani came to the US. Hussein found his refuge in Europe, where he became deputy head of the Kurdish Institute of Paris. He held that position from 1987 until returning to Iraq in 2003, following the initial days of the US-led war that overthrew Saddam and his regime. Soon thereafter he became Chief-of-Staff to President Masoud Barzani.

He is the second Kurd to hold the position of Foreign Minister in post-Saddam Iraq. Hoshyar Zebari was the first, holding that post from 2005 until 2014.

Editing by John J. Catherine