Maliki in Washington to open a new page in relations

Posted 11/12/2011 09:11 AM

BAGHDAD - Babinaoz (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday morning to Washington, for the first time in his capacity as Prime Minister of the State "where foreign troops are not", to open a new page in relations between the two countries on the eve of the end of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

Maliki's visit that will continue for two days and meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, less than a month before the completion of the U.S. withdrawal from the country after eight years of military presence after the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The media adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Ali al-Moussawi, told AFP: "This will be his first visit, a head of state is not foreign forces, which can rely on themselves fully." He added, "We will discuss all aspects of cooperation and open new horizons for relations between Baghdad and Washington, after it was ruled by military matters."

The accompanying Maliki on his visit, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and President of the advisers Thamer Ghadban, and national security adviser Falah Al-Fayad.

Also accompanied by Minister of Transport Hadi Farhan al-Amiri and Trade Minister Khairallah Babiker, the Culture Minister of Defense Saadoun Dulaimi and Acting Chairman of the National Investment Sami Raouf al-Araji.

It is due to hold the Iraqi prime minister talks with Obama and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in addition to members of Congress and U.S. business, where the talks will touch upon several issues, including security, energy, education and justice.

Araji said that "a major economic conference will be held on the second day of the visit with the participation of Iraqi businessmen and more than 250 U.S. company (...) and in cooperation with the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and other ministries of the two sides."

He added that Iraq "will present investment opportunities in companies in all areas, especially in infrastructure and the different economic sectors," explaining that "the conference will discuss cooperation in the private sector, Iraqi and American ways of strengthening and development."

And whether Iraq would invite U.S. companies for work in Iraq, said al-Araji, said that "the call list of investment companies the U.S., the market is open it, but the visit will highlight the economic opportunities available, whether an investment or business or trade, and everything will be on the table."

In Washington, said White House spokesman Jay Carney said Maliki and Obama "will discuss the departure of U.S. troops to Iraq, and our efforts to open a new page in the framework of the strategic partnership agreement between the United States and Iraq."

"The President salutes the sacrifices of all those who served in Iraq and the Iraqi people to get to the promise we made deepen US-Iraqi friendship in the time we end the war in Iraq."

Is likely to change the relationship between Washington and Baghdad, as is supposed to be the work of the United States is concentrated in Iraq on its diplomatic mission of the 16-thousand people after the focus was on military intervention.

The U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden said in Baghdad last November that the US-Iraqi relationship, "for as long as the security aspects of wisdom, but today open the way for a new partnership between two sovereign nations are working to build a common future together."

And there are fewer than six thousand American troops currently stationed in Iraq in four military bases, after the number reached about 170 thousand in 505 bases in 2007 and 2008, knowing that he is supposed to complete the withdrawal by the end of this year.

And U.S. troops leave, leaving behind about 900 thousand men Iraqi security officials say the Americans and the Iraqis that they are able to take over internally, but they may not be able to protect the country's borders and its airspace and waters.

And will remain in Iraq, about 157 soldiers and 763 contractor to train Iraqi forces, so that those subject to the authority of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which is stipulated in the security agreement signed in 2008, the last stages of the U.S. role changing in Iraq, which his U.S. officials directly in 2003 and 2004, and even a UN mandate expires in 2009 and then finally ending the U.S. forces Mhamtha combat the summer of 2011.

This is the third visit to Nuri al-Maliki to the United States as prime minister.

The visit was first owners to Washington took place in July 2006 while the country was overwhelmed by acts of bloody sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands, followed by a visit in July 2009 after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from city centers.

Violence has fallen dramatically since reaching Dhurth 2006 and 2007 during the sectarian clashes, but the explosions and assassinations continues in Iraq, where rebels launched since the beginning of December several attacks that killed dozens.