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Iraq: ‘Ending US presence does not negate our appreciation for their service’

Iraqi President Barham Salih arrives at the Elysee Palace for his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) in Paris, France on 25 February 2019. [Mustafa Yalçın - Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi President Barham Saleh in Paris, France on 25 February 2019 [Mustafa Yalçın/Anadolu Agency]

Iraqi President Barham Salih confirmed yesterday that the request to end the presence of US troops in the country “does not negate Iraq’s appreciation for their services.”

Salih said in a speech he before the 50th session of the World Economic Forum in the Davos, Switzerland: “We seek to maintain good relations with everyone, and we have no interest in being dragged into conflicts that we did not choose and have no control over.”

The Iraqi parliament voted on 5 January to authorise the government to end the presence of foreign forces in the country, including about 5,200 US troops, in response to the American drone attack that killed Commander of the Iranian Quds Force Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport.

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The Iraqi president considered that “settling the crisis of governance and restoring sovereignty are crucial matters that pave the way for achieving stability in the Middle East.”

Regarding the ongoing protests in the country, Salih said: “The demonstrators want free, fair and honest elections so that they can achieve what they hope for through the MPs they elected,” stressing the need to restore the Iraqis’ trust through the formation of the government and organising early elections.

Iraqis today held what they called the “Million Man March” call for an end to US military presence in the country.

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