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US Ready for Negotiations with Iraq on American Military Presence

US Ready for Negotiations with Iraq on American Military Presence

Friday, 24 January, 2020 - 06:30
Iraqi demonstrators block roads with burning tires during ongoing anti-government protests, in Baghdad, Iraq January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani
Washington - Asharq Al-Awsat

The United States is prepared to enter into talks with Iraq on the removal of US troops from the country, as demanded by the Iraqi parliament, Ambassador James Jeffrey, the US special envoy for Syria and the coalition against ISIS, said Thursday.

"Our position, as you know –- we've said it several times -- is that we're prepared to discuss with the Iraqi government our overall strategic relationship," Jeffrey told reporters in Washington.

"We have not seen an uptick in violence in Iraq” by ISIS in this period, he said at the State Department.

Jeffrey said US-led coalition operations have been on pause in Iraq as the focus has been on force protection and talks with the Baghdad government on the way forward after Iraq's parliament voted to expel foreign troops.

The lawmakers were furious at the Jan. 3 drone strike on Iraqi soil that killed Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

The Pentagon is likely deploying a missile-defense system to Iraq in response to Iran’s ballistic missile attack on the Iraqi base of Ain al-Asad housing American troops to avenge Soleimani’s death, US defense officials tell Fox News.

The move comes after US troops were sent to a medical facility in Germany after complaining of head injuries following the Iranian missile attack.

Fox News previously reported that the US military didn’t shoot down any of Iran’s ballistic missiles because there was no missile defense system in position.

A senior Pentagon official told Fox News that they believed an Iranian missile attack was “unlikely.” US officials say a Patriot air defense system will now likely be deployed.

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