Wed. Jul 24th, 2024
Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Tamim Co-chair a U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee Meeting

MODERATOR:  Hi.  Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to the 8th U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee session.  It’s my honor to introduce Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Well, good morning, everyone, and so good to see you all here today.  Before getting to the HCC, let me just comment briefly on the events of the last few days.  Over the weekend, as you know, Iran launched hundreds of missiles and drones against Israel.  This was an attack unprecedented in its scope and in its scale – in its scope because it represented the first direct attack by Iran on Israel; and in its scale because, as I said, there were more than 300 munitions fired, including ballistic missiles as well as land attack cruise missiles and drones.  Thanks to Israeli air defenses as well as support from other countries, including U.S. military assets, virtually all of the incoming projectiles were destroyed and shot down. 

As President Biden underscored to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. is committed – committed to Israel’s defense.  And I think what this weekend demonstrated is that Israel did not have to and does not have to defend itself alone when it is the victim of an aggression, the victim of an attack.  In the 36 hours since, we have been coordinating a diplomatic response to seek to prevent escalation.  Strength and wisdom need to be the same sides – the – different sides of the same coin.  I’ve been in close communication with counterparts in the region, and we will continue to do so in the hours and days ahead.  We don’t seek escalation, but we’ll continue to support the defense of Israel and to protect our personnel in the region. 

Now, for today, let me say how pleased we are to welcome our Iraqi colleagues here to Washington, and I’m particularly glad to have the deputy prime minister here with us this morning to kick off what is the second U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordination Committee with the Sudani government.  We just had an excellent meeting with Prime Minister Sudani.  I’m grateful to him for receiving us this morning, and of course we look forward to meeting shortly between the prime minister and the President.  But I think everything we’re seeing today highlights the importance, the value we attach to the relationship between the United States and Iraq – a partnership that’s genuinely 360 degrees in everything that it covers in bringing us together.  The prime minister’s visit to Houston and to Detroit is another indication of the breadth and depth of the relationship, not only between our countries but also between our people. 

Through the HCC and the meetings today, we are working to strengthen and expand that 360-degree partnership.  We’re focusing on a half a dozen issues, including energy security, democracy, the rule of law, climate, and water.  The American private sector remains very interested in engaging and investing, in lending its expertise to Iraq, especially when it comes to energy.  Through these efforts, we look forward to helping advance the prime minister’s affirmative agenda and seeing Iraq succeed.  So this HCC carries forward the vision of a long-term relationship of cooperation and friendship that was laid out in the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement.  Our mission today, our goal today, is to make concrete progress on that vision, to continue to transform it into reality, and a reality that benefits people in Iraq, benefits people in the United States, benefits people in the region.

And with that, it’s a great pleasure to welcome Minister Tamim and to have you here today.  Mr. Minister. 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TAMIM:  (Via interpreter) In the name of God, the most merciful, the most gracious, ladies and gentleman, peace be upon you, all of you.  Your Excellency, Secretary Tony Blinken, the Secretary of the United States Department of States, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my gratitude and thanks for the warm reception.  And I hope today will achieve results that will be in the interest of both nations.  Excellency Blinken, the higher coordinated committing – committee that is – ensuing meetings and these – on the side sessions that will contribute in transforming our relationship, strategic relationship, to a different phase that will activate the Strategic Framework Agreement, that will align with the services government led by our Prime Minister Sudani, where we are intending to reform financial and political policies, and to go towards to energy independence, conduct partnerships with the regional countries and the world. 

Your Excellency, Secretary, the Middle East today is living exceptional circumstances that has repercussions on our nations, and we hope escalations and tensions in the area will end.  The Government of Iraq is warning about escalation and the area to be dragged into a wider war that will threaten international security and safety.  And therefore, we call on all parties for self-restraint and to respect the rules of diplomatic works and also international laws.  And we seek that these sessions, it will be the beginning of putting the foundations to work effectively through this higher committee so that we’ll – we’ll continue our ongoing bilateral relations and meetings.  And we’re going to focus on energy, investment, education, climate change, health, transportation, and water, and also to strengthen democracy and human rights protections.

And this is the new launching of a new phase to implement the articles of the Strategic Framework Agreement.  The Government of Iraq is working to – for the prosperity of the Iraqi people, at the same time to pay the debts of the Iraqi nation, and especially when it comes to the different phases of the energy sector and use new technologies and modernization of our energy sector to reduce also pollution.  The Iraqi Government is widening its partnership and conducting agreements so that we’ll be able to, for example, use technologies to capture flaring gas, to create and achieve independence in energy, and also to invest in other sources of energy, including renewables and solar energy. 

The Iraqi Government is – also seek – government seeking to diversify its economy through activating the domestic industry and the governmental enterprises to adopt a profitable model to make the Iraqi economy open to the international markets by inviting tourism, agriculture, and also creating industrial hubs and zones that will really push Iraq to a prosperous economical horizons, with a partnership with United States and the European Union and other friendly countries to incentivize our economy and to adopt a new economy that is dependent on free market and investing in major industrial projects. 

To conclude, all I can say is to reaffirm our recognition and appreciation for the joint and mutual efforts to take our relationship to a different phase and a different page of partnership between the two friendly nations.  Thank you, Secretary Blinken and everyone here present.  Thank you and peace be upon you all.

MODERATOR:  And thank you, Mr. Secretary and Mr. Minister, for your remarks.  If I could please ask the delegations to stay seated while they depart and invite our press colleagues also to depart the room.  Thank you to our press colleagues.

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originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS