US Pledges To Help Iraq Conduct Next General Elections

(RTTNews) – The United States has pledged to assist the Iraqi government for holding its next provincial and national elections scheduled for 2013 and 2014 respectively.

The offer was made at a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Political and Diplomatic Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) in Baghdad.

The United States consider Iraqi implementation of holding elections on schedule as next essential step in the development of the country’s democracy, the JCC said in a joint statement on Sunday.

The two sides reaffirmed their strategic partnership at the meeting, hosted by the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. State Department said in a press release. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ambassador Elizabeth Jones co-chaired the meeting.

During the meeting, the delegations discussed international efforts to address the Syrian crisis and explored areas of potential cooperation, particularly on humanitarian issues and technical advice on border security. Both sides remain fully committed to a Syrian-led political transition leading to a pluralistic political system representing the will of the Syrian people. The United States acknowledged Iraqi efforts to provide shelter and services to Syrians seeking refuge in Iraq.

The United States praised Iraqi efforts to resolve Chapter VII issues regarding its relationship with Kuwait, in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 833. The U.S. said it was committed to working with both Iraq and Kuwait to resolve remaining Chapter VII issues.

The two sides also discussed the ongoing process of repatriating archives and documents which are part of the patrimony of the Iraqi people.

The United States praised Iraq’s recent decision to sign the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Finally, both the countries agreed to explore options for expanded consultation between Department of State and Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel, potentially to include joint training, professional exchanges, and more frequent policy planning discussions.

The two sides committed to convene the Political and Diplomatic JCC quarterly over the coming year.

The JCCs were established by the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement between Iraq and the United States to strengthen their bilateral strategic partnership on a variety of initiatives, including Defense and Security, Energy, Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation, Education and Culture, Science and Environment, Trade and Finance, and Transportation Cooperation.