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US President Biden urges Iraq 'national dialogue' in call with PM Kadhimi

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Washington | September 1, 2022 2:27:13 AM IST
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday (local time) spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and praised the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces during escalating tensions in Baghdad earlier this week.

In a telephonic conversation with the Iraqi PM, Biden commended Kadhimi's personal leadership during the violence, according to a White House readout.

"President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke today with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq to discuss U.S. support for a sovereign and independent Iraq. The President commended Prime Minister Kadhimi's personal leadership during escalating tensions and violence over a 24-hour period earlier this week," the readout stated.

The US president also extended condolences to the families of those killed in the fighting.

"He praised the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces and extended condolences to the families of those killed in the recent fighting. The President and the Prime Minister welcomed the return of security to the streets, and called on all Iraqi leaders to engage in a national dialogue to forge a common way forward consistent with Iraq's constitution and laws," the statement further read.

President Biden also offered his support for Prime Minster Kadhimi's efforts to de-escalate tensions in the region through dialogue and diplomacy. The two leaders agreed to remain in touch over the coming weeks.

The situation in Iraq escalated on Monday when Al-Sadr announced his retirement from politics. Iraq has faced a political deadlock since the early parliamentary elections, the first since 2003.

The clashes between his supporters and security forces left 30 people dead and hundreds injured.

Thousands of his followers stormed Iraq's presidential palace and clashed with the security forces following which Military reinforcements were sent to the presidential palace as the followers of Al Sadr tore down cement barriers outside the government building in support of the cleric.

An immediate curfew was put in place right after as Palace security was unable to control the mass of demonstrators.

Earlier in July, numerous Iraqi demonstrators, mostly supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the heavily fortified parliament building in Baghdad to protest against the nomination for prime minister by rival Iran-backed parties. The protesters were opposing the candidacy of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the post of Prime Minister, as they believe him to be too close to Iran.

Notably, Al-Sadr's bloc won 73 seats in Iraq's October 2021 election, making it the largest faction in the 329-seat parliament but, ever since the vote, talks to form a new government have stalled, and Al-Sadr stepped down from the political process. A deadlock persists over the establishment of a new government.

Mass protests erupted in 2019 amid public anger over corruption and unemployment and this current protest poses a challenge for the oil-rich country. (ANI)

 
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