Iraqi officials discuss the US military presence during their visit to Washington.

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Iraqi officials discuss the US military presence during their visit to Washington.

The Pentagon said in a statement that senior Baghdad officials were in Washington on Thursday for preliminary talks on the US military presence in Iraq, ahead of a meeting between the two nations’ leaders.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden will welcome Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi at the White House, where Kadhemi is anticipated to argue for a precise timeframe for the removal of international troops.

According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Mara Karlin hosted Iraqi National Security Advisor Qassem al-Araji and a military group on Thursday.

Both parties “reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral security relationship between the United States and Iraq,” as well as “the long-term US-Iraq security cooperation partnership and areas for cooperation beyond counterterrorism.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin joined the gathering to express his support for “the strategic alliance between the United States and Iraq.”

The talks will resume on Friday.

Since 2014, 3,500 foreign troops have been stationed in Iraq, including 2,500 Americans, to assist in the fight against the Islamic State.

It could take years for them to effect their departure.

In recent months, Iraq, which has long been a hotbed of antagonism between the US and Iran despite their shared hatred of the Islamic State, has seen an increase in rocket and drone assaults against US sites.

Iraq’s leader met with visiting US envoy Brett McGurk in Baghdad last week to negotiate foreign troop departure, according to his office.

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