Speech of Iraqi Foreign Minister at the Third Round of the Strategic Dialogue Between Baghdad and Washington on 7 April 2021
Esteemed Secretary of State of the United States of America Mr. Anthony Blinken.
Honorable attendees, distinguished representatives of the American and Iraqi side.
In the outset, I would like to express appreciation for your response to the invitation to hold the third round of the strategic dialogue, and convening the Higher Coordinating Committee emanating from the Strategic Framework Agreement for the Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America.
Allow me to welcome the attendees, members of the committee from the American and Iraqi sides, and commend the sincere efforts exerted by them to overcome obstacles and ensure the success of this round of dialogue.
ladies and gentlemen ..
When we talk about the depth of the relationship that binds the two friendly countries and the relationship of strategic partnership, we recall the efforts and the support provided by the United States of America to enhance security, stability and democracy in Iraq and end the era of the former regime, which today marks the anniversary of the founding of its overthrown party, as the Iraqi people chose to live in freedom, dignity and renounce injustice.
Our meeting today comes as an affirmation of the partnership between Iraq and the United States, and the serious endeavors of the two governments to strengthen and complete the joint efforts that commenced in the two previous rounds of the strategic dialogue, the first of which was held virtually on June 11, 2020, and the second was held in Washington DC on 19 August 2020. The rounds resulted in the signing of a number of principal memoranda of understanding and agreements that covered various sectors including (oil and gas, electricity, financial sector, health, environment, and cultural sectors in addition to the security and military fields).
In our meeting today, we look forward to completing the tangible progress achieved in the aforementioned aspects of cooperation and working to implement what the two sides agreed upon during the current round of strategic dialogue.
ladies and gentlemen ..
As you know, the Iraqi government adopted the principles of the constitution through its governmental agenda, and worked on consolidation of human rights, values of citizenship, and respect for religious, sectarian, ethnic and national diversity in Iraq, and it continues to lay the foundations of democracy. It is a priority of the government to hold early elections in response to popular demands and achieve political and economic reform, therefore, the Iraqi Parliament has enacted the new election law, and the tenth of October this year marks the date of its convening. The Iraqi government is working to ensure broad participation of all components of the Iraqi people, with a commitment to enhancing supervision and providing financial, logistical and security requirements, to achieve the highest standards of integrity and transparency, with international observation in this electoral process, to ensure the success of the elections.
With regards to the relationship between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, the relationship has witnessed a development towards solving outstanding problems which lead to the approval of the federal budget.
Furthermore, in line with the government’s approach to adopt a balanced foreign policy, by ensuring positive neutrality, distancing Iraq from being an arena for conflicts and moving away from the policy of axes, Iraq is witnessing an openness in relations within its Arab and Islamic neighbors as well as with its international friends. Thus, restoring its role as a meeting point for regional and international partnerships to achieve mutual interests.
The recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq came to confirm that Iraq today is becoming a regional and international gateway to promote messages of peace between the peoples of the region and the world; a country of peaceful coexistence between its components regardless of their different ethnic, racial and religious affiliations to set an example in extending a hand of peace to peoples of the region who seek peace and freedom.
Ladies and gentlemen…
It is no secret that we faced together many security challenges during the past period and I would like to reiterate the Iraqi government’s praise for the efforts made by the United States’ government to rehabilitate, train and equip the Iraqi security forces, and provide consultations in the intelligence field to the reach the required readiness to work with national capabilities in a way that consolidates the sovereignty of Iraq, its security, and preserving its gains by defeating the terrorist organization ISIS.
On this occasion, I highly value the cooperation and coordination between all formations of the Iraqi security forces and the international coalition forces led by the United States, which participated and continues to participate in defeating the “ISIS terrorist group” until its final elimination, as we consider this terrorist organization a threat not only to Iraq and Syria but rather, to the entire region; a threat that also has repercussion on international peace and security. We affirm that our security forces still need programs such as the ones offered by the United States of America related to training, arming, equipping, and developing expertise and we seek to continue bilateral security coordination and cooperation. We affirm the commitment of the Government of Iraq to protect members of diplomatic missions, their headquarters and their facilities.
Ladies and gentlemen…
The Iraqi government has worked since the first day of assuming its duties to accomplish its economic reform program, and to achieve this, it launched its White Paper and sought to fundamentally change its economic policy, the main goal of which was to diversify the resources of the Iraqi economy, which depends on oil exports. This radical change has faced great challenges, the most prominent of which are the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the sharp decline in oil prices, early last year. This cast a shadow over various Iraqi sectors, especially the health sector which suffers from shortage of resources and equipment, the economic and financial sectors, which face this challenge, among other challenges. In order to implement the Iraqi government’s economic reform program, promotion of international support and an enhancement of expertise is required in this regard. In the field of energy, I would like to emphasize that the government of Iraq is determined to achieve security in this sector, depend on its own resources, especially in the field of gas, to put a stop to its waste and environmentally harmful emissions, and to rely on locally produced electrical energy through its stations, and on clean and renewable energy sources, which is a new and promising step in Iraq.
In this regard, we call on the United States to strengthen our partnership through the memoranda of understanding and agreements signed between our countries, in addition to what shall be agreed-upon later, especially in the field of developing the oil and gas sectors and the electricity sector, in order to achieve the desired goals and aspirations of self-sufficiency in the field of energy.
We stress the importance of building on partnerships in the field of investment in various sectors, and enhancing the presence of competent American investment companies to ensure the smooth flow of their work in the promising Iraqi markets and we also call for the strengthening of partnership projects in various vital sectors.
In conclusion, I affirm Iraq’s keenness to cooperate and strengthen the partnership with the United States of America in all fields, especially the field of security, as well as the fields of energy, health, environment, economy, culture, and education, in a way that achieves common interests between the two friendly countries. In our talks today, we look forward to reach common understandings and agreements in all sectors of cooperation, and we look forward to the continuation of the strategic dialogue between the two countries in subsequent rounds.