Joint Statement on the Iraq-U.S. Higher Coordinating Committee

Joint Statement on the Iraq- U.S. Higher Coordinating Committee

April 15, 2024

The following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq.

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The delegation of the Republic of Iraq, led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning Mohammed Tamim, and the delegation of the United States Government, led by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, co-chaired a meeting of the Higher Coordinating Committee today, April 15, in accordance with the 2008 U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. The two sides reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral partnership and Iraq’s critical role in regional security and prosperity. The delegations expressed the desire to expand the depth and breadth of the relationship between our two countries, including in the areas of energy independence, financial reform, services for the Iraqi people, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and enhancing educational and cultural relations. Representatives from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government also participated.

The U.S. and Iraqi delegations shared the view that Iraq has the potential to harness immense natural gas resources, invest in new energy infrastructure and renewables, and achieve energy self-sufficiency by 2030. The United States commended Iraq for its progress on gas capture and work on commercializing associated gases. Significant gas potential in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) is a key component of Iraq’s energy security, as is increased private sector investment. To allow Iraq to benefit from the U.S. private sector’s leading technology and expertise, the United States and Iraq announced the signing of new memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to capture and process flared gas and turn it into usable electricity for the Iraqi people. Also, the two sides stressed the importance of resuming oil exports via the Iraq-Turkiye Pipeline (ITP).

The United States commended Iraq for its considerable work on increasing regional connectivity, particularly in energy interconnections with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. After years of work to build its interconnection with Jordan, Iraq is receiving 40 megawatts of electricity for the Iraqi people; future phases would increase capacity to 900 megawatts. Iraq affirmed that enhanced ties based on shared mutual interests with neighbors are essential to domestic prosperity. Iraq and the United States discussed Iraq’s interest in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including emerging nuclear technologies.

The two sides discussed the significant progress Iraq has made in modernizing its financial and banking sector, which has expanded correspondent relationships with banks in the United States and Europe. Iraq and the United States committed to ongoing collaborative financial reform efforts that will allow Iraq to encourage foreign investment and continue expanding international banking relationships. These reforms will fight corruption and prevent illicit use of Iraq’s financial sector, allowing local banks to serve as engines of inclusive economic growth. The two sides resolved to strengthen cooperation through an enhanced engagement plan between the U.S. Treasury and key Government of Iraq stakeholders. Iraq and the United States also noted the importance of improving Iraq’s investment climate and combatting corruption, key pillars of Prime Minister Sudani’s reform efforts. To bolster the development of private business in Iraq, the United States International Development Finance Corporation will provide a $50 million loan facilitated by USAID to the National Bank of Iraq to expand its lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises, with a focus on previously unbanked and women-led businesses.

Iraq renewed its commitment to its ongoing efforts on accession to the World Trade Organization and protecting intellectual property rights. The United States also committed to support a series of International Visitor Leadership Program projects for Iraqis to develop expertise in these areas. Both parties recognized the importance of strategic and infrastructural projects in Iraq that will support regional integration and boost international trade.

The United States expressed concern about the impacts of climate change being felt by the Iraqi people and pledged continued support to resolve Iraq’s water crisis and improve public health. The United States commended the Supreme Water Committee’s work to improve management of Iraq’s water resources. Both countries intend to work closely together as Iraq addresses climate change and water scarcity and ends gas flaring to reduce methane emissions. The United States applauded Iraq’s pending release of its National Action Plan and encouraged Iraq to prepare a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement ahead of the 29th UN Climate Change Conference. USAID committed to working with Iraq at the local government level to improve water and waste management services. The United States also committed to an International Visitor Leadership Program and an Ambassador’s Water Expert Program to share technical expertise on water management and other needs.

The Iraqi delegation also expressed interest in cooperating with American companies to exchange expertise in health insurance programs, hospital management, and cancer research.

The Government of the United States welcomed the Government of Iraq’s commitment to respecting freedom of expression in accordance with Iraqi law as guaranteed by Iraq’s constitution. The two delegations discussed how the United States could best support the Iraqi government to advance justice for survivors and victims of the 2014 genocide committed by ISIS in accordance with the rule of law. The two sides also discussed the importance of the stability of Sinjar. The United States reaffirmed its continued intention to support Iraq in advancing its Trafficking in Persons strategy. The United States applauded recent positive developments in support of minority communities. The two sides also took note of the impressive progress Iraq has made in repatriating more than 8,000 of its citizens from al-Hol displaced persons camp in northeastern Syria. The United States thanked Iraq for its commitment to accelerate the pace of repatriations.

In the higher education and cultural discussion, the two governments discussed U.S. support for the Prime Minister’s reinvigorated scholarship program intended to bolster the number of Iraqi students studying overseas. The Government of Iraq intends to send 3,000 students to study in the United States out of 5,000 it plans to send to study abroad. The two nations also welcomed initiatives to expand English language instruction and student advising for Iraqi students interested in, or bound for, study in the United States. The two delegations also reviewed progress on their mutual efforts to preserve Iraq’s rich cultural heritage and religious diversity and reaffirmed their intent to continue facilitating the return of Iraqi cultural property to its rightful place in Iraq. Accordingly, during the HCC, the Department of State facilitated the transfer of one ancient Sumerian artifact repatriated to Iraq by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and committed to future repatriations of Iraqi artifacts.

The two countries affirmed the strides Iraq has made in bolstering its security, stability, and sovereignty and noted their mutual determination to deepen the strong ties between their two peoples. The United States welcomed the opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen its partnership with Iraq.

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