Iraqi PM Maliki to visit US on July 21
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BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is to visit the United States from July 21, one of his advisers told AFP on Sunday, in a trip aimed at bolstering non-military cooperation.
"He will meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York as well as President Barack Obama in Washington," said Yassin Majid, announcing the start of the visit of several days.
US Vice President Joe Biden, whom Obama has appointed as his administration's pointman on Iraq, visited Baghdad at the start of July and urged Iraqi leaders to speed progress on its national reconciliation process.
Biden has repeatedly voiced concern about lingering feuds between Iraq's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities being a roadblock to political progress.
However, the Iraqi government refused a US offer to intervene, describing the national reconciliation process as an internal matter and warning that outside interference could cause additional problems.
Maliki said on Friday that a June 30 US troop pullback from Iraqi towns and cities signalled that the two countries had "entered a new phase."
"We will work during the next visit to the United States to push forward bilateral relations in various areas" and to work to remove sanctions imposed during the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein, Maliki said.
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