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Biden, Kadhimi seal agreement to end US combat mission in Iraq

Biden and Kadhimi met in the Oval Office for their first face-to-face talks as part of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.

US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi on Monday sealed an agreement formally ending the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after US troops were sent to the country.

Coupled with Biden’s withdrawal of the last American forces in Afghanistan by the end of August, the Democratic president is completing US combat missions in the two wars that then-President George W. Bush began under his watch.

Biden and Kadhimi met in the Oval Office for their first face-to-face talks as part of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.

“Our role in Iraq will be … to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with Daesh as it arises but we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat zone,” Biden told reporters as he and Al Kadhimi met.

There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq focusing on countering the remnants of Daesh. The US role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself.

The shift is not expected to have a major impact since the United States has already moved towards focusing on training Iraqi forces.

A US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003 based on charges that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was ousted from power, but such weapons were never found.

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