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June 9, 2023

Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein Before Their Meeting

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Intercontinental Hotel

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, greetings, everyone, and it is – as always – a pleasure to be with my friend of many years, Fuad Hussein, the foreign minister of Iraq.  Lots of shared history, so it’s always good to be with you, my friend.

We have a strong partnership between the United States and Iraq that is grounded in the Strategic Framework Agreement and we’re working together to make sure that we’re broadening the work that we’re doing and expanding the relationship under that – under that framework, working together to strengthen Iraq’s sovereignty, its security, its stability for the benefit of the Iraqi people and also for Americans.

So this is a good opportunity for us to be able to compare notes on a number of areas and also a number of initiatives where we’ve been working closely together.  We had a very good visit when Fuad was in Washington just a few months ago, so I’m very pleased for this opportunity to continue the conversation.  And welcome to you, my friend.

FOREIGN MINISTER HUSSEIN:  So it’s great to see you here.  And indeed, I – our partnership is depending on many points of relationship.  It goes back to the struggle together.  It goes back to be together in the fight against ISIS.  And of course we are depending in our relationship not only on the strategic agreement but also on the history which we have together.  We always – during every meeting, we would like to thank you and thank United States for the support that has been provided to Iraq in our common fight against ISIS.  And today, we are here to talk about that.  And, of course, we – together, we defeated ISIS.  So in Iraq we defeated, and we are going to work together to defeat ISIS in other countries who are facing still various challenges, but anyhow we can manage it.  And with your support, we can manage these challenges.

Today, actually, the last week I was very much busy until last night when I left to here with the budget law, so we are struggling to have our budget law and actually the whole focus in Iraq now is about building or rebuilding our economy and providing service to our people.  So the whole attention is going from when it was about security and trying and helping to provide security to our people – with your support now, it’s going to the economy.

So in that field, we need partners.  And the United States is the most important partner for us.  And that’s why the talks which we had and the meetings which we had a few months ago in Washington, it was restart our relationship.  And we are planning actually to have, once again this year – if we can arrange it – once again meetings and discussions within the framework of strategical dialogue.