Washington and Baghdad open talks on ending anti-IS group coalition in Iraq

Iraq and the United States on Saturday held a "first round" of talks on the future of American and other foreign troops in the country, with Baghdad expecting discussions to lead to a timeline for reducing their presence.

The office of Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani issued a photograph of the head of government with top-ranking officials both of the Iraqi armed forces and of the international coalition set up by Washington to fight the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

Sudani "is hosting the start of the first round of bilateral dialogue between Iraq and the US to end the mission of the international coalition in Iraq," the office said in a statement.

"The talks and whatever progress made will determine the length of these negotiations," Sudani's foreign affairs adviser, Farhad Alaaldin, told AFP.

"Iraq is engaging the other countries taking part in the international coalition for bilateral agreements that serves the best interest of Iraq and these countries."

Washington had said on Thursday that it had agreed with Baghdad on the launch of "expert working groups of military and defence professionals" as part of the Higher Military Commission set up in agreement with Baghdad.

The working groups would examine "three key factors", Washington said: "the threat from ISIS, operational and environmental requirements and the Iraqi Security Forces' capability levels."


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