Trump to meet Iraqi PM as ties rebound


President Donald Trump will meet Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Washington later this month, the White House said on Friday, highlighting a turn-around in relations since the U.S.-friendly premier came to power.

Tensions skyrocketed following a U.S. strike on Baghdad in January that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and prompted Iraqi lawmakers to demand the expulsion of the roughly 5,200 US troops in the country.

The hostility has calmed substantially since Kadhimi - an ex-spy chief with close ties to the U.S. and its allies in the region - took the reins as Iraq's premier in May.

The White House said the August 20 visit comes at a "critical time" in the fight against the Islamic State group and the myriad problems posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

"As close partners, the United States and Iraq will look to expand our relations," the White House added.

A Washington invite was the type of diplomatic olive branch never received by Kadhimi's predecessor Adel Abdel Mahdi, who was forced to resign by months of protests.    (AFP) 

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