US asks Iraq to negotiate new security agreement as tensions rise

PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi welcomed the opening of a strategic dialogue between Iraq and the US 'in order to achieve their mutual interests and in light of decisions and developments in Iraq and the region'

Members of the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) take part in their graduation ceremony at a military camp in Kerbala (photo credit: REUTERS/ABDULLAH DHIAA AL-DEEN)
Members of the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) take part in their graduation ceremony at a military camp in Kerbala
(photo credit: REUTERS/ABDULLAH DHIAA AL-DEEN)
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry received a letter from the US State Department suggesting that the two countries renegotiate the Strategic Framework Agreement concerning bilateral economic, trade, cultural and security relations, announced Iraqi FM Mohamed Ali Alhakim on his Twitter account on Sunday night.
Iraq welcomed the proposal and will set a mutually convenient time for talks, added the FM.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi welcomed the opening of a strategic dialogue between Iraq and the US on Sunday, "in order to achieve their mutual interests and in light of decisions and developments in Iraq and the region," according to a tweet by the Iraqi Prime Minister's Office.
The statements come as tensions rise between the US and Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.
The Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) released a statement on Saturday vowing to end the US military presence in the country, according to Press TV. The PMF added that US troops in the country will be dealt with as "occupation forces," as the US refused to withdraw its forces from Iraq.
"You have proven to everyone that you are occupation forces and that you only respect the language of force; on these bases you will be dealt with as occupiers," read the statement.
The PMF also expressed its opposition to the designation of Adnan al-Zurfi as Iraq's prime minister, warning the Iraqi president that "by his nomination of this person, he violated the will of public demonstrators and the directions of the religious authority in order to present a controversial candidate accused of corruption," according to Asharq Al-Awsat. The militia referred to Zurfi as the "US intelligence candidate."
The Iraqi parliament approved a bill in January demanding the withdrawal of the international coalition after former IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy leader of the PMF Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in a US airstrike.
CENTCOM confirmed last week that air-defense systems had been moved into Iraq after repeated attacks on Iraqi bases, a day after US President Donald Trump tweeted that "Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq." Trump warned, "If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!"


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