WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi are planning to announce an agreement Monday that will detail a timetable for the drawdown of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq.
A senior administration official told reporters that the two leaders, who will meet in the Oval Office in the afternoon, are expected to release a “broad communiqué” that will “make very clear that this has been an evolution” regarding the U.S. military's role in the country, according to a transcript of the call released by the White House on Monday.
The deal will also make clear that both countries agree that Iraq still needs advisory assistance.
“As this evolution continues, and as we formally end the combat mission and make clear that there are no American forces with a combat role in the country, Iraq has requested, and we very much agree, that they need continued training; support with logistics, intelligence, advisory capacity building — all of which will continue,” the official said.
While the official refused to specify how many of the 2,500 troops the U.S. plans to keep in Iraq, the official said that each strategic dialogue between the two countries has resulted in “a communiqué and an arrangement agreement about consolidation, redeployment of forces, and there has been a consolidation.”
The official, who noted that the U.S. has trained about 250,000 Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, said that their fighters are “battle-tested” and “have proven very capable in protecting their country.”
Still, the official said that the Islamic State terrorist group still remains a threat and referred to a bombing that occurred in Baghdad last week. The attack, the official said, reinforces that both nations understand Iraq still needs advisory training and capacity-building support.
Over the next five months, the official said to expect changes of command and to anticipate “adjustments” as American troops shift to this new role.
Al-Kadhimi told The Associated Press in an interview published Sunday that “there is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil.”
In April, the U.S. and Iraq agreed on the eventual drawdown of combat troops from Iraq. Former President Barack Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, but sent forces back to the country in 2014 after ISIS militants took control of extensive territory there.
Meanwhile, Biden plans to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31, ending America's longest war, which began in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.