Iraq's PM to visit U.S.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will visit the United States on July 21 to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, Iraqi official television reported on Sunday, Xinhua agency reported
Maliki, to be accompanied by a high-level delegation, will hold talks with Obama about issues of common interests along with means to enhance bilateral relations, the state-run channel of Iraqia said.
Maliki will discuss with Obama the cooperation between the two countries according to the strategic framework agreement, which was signed late last year along with the security pact. The agreement aims at ensuring cooperation in several fields, including education, energy development, environmental hygiene, health care, information technology and communications.
He will also hold talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over lifting international sanctions imposed on Iraq since Saddam Hussein's army invaded Kuwait in 1990.
The declaration of Maliki's Washington tour followed the surprise visit in the past few days of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who met in Baghdad with Iraqi leaders.
During the meetings, Biden warned Maliki that although the U.S. is maintaining about 130,000 troops in Iraq, the time is running out and he (Maliki) has to move faster on national reconciliation efforts as the deadline for the departure of U.S. combat troops is approaching.
Biden made it clear to Iraqi leaders that his country would be unlikely to remain engaged in Iraq if the country reverted to sectarian violence, urging the Iraqis to rapidly make use of the political process to resolve their remaining differences.
He told Iraqi leaders that he and Obama are standing ready to help the political process in Iraq.
"The United States will continue to support the government of national unity and assist Iraq in the United Nations to get out of Chapter VII," Biden said, referring to UN sanctions imposed during Saddam Hussein's regime which was toppled in the 2003 invasion.
Maliki's trip abroad would be the first since the U.S. troops pulled out from Iraqi cities and towns on June 30.