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Spain PM says supports Iraq's 'sovereignty and stability'

Iraq's Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani (R) and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Baghdad
— Baghdad (AFP)

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday he supported Iraq's "sovereignty and stability", during a visit to Baghdad where he also met with Spanish troops.

"My country, always at the request of the Iraqi authorities, will support the unity, sovereignty and stability of Iraq," said Sanchez during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani.

Spain has deployed more than 300 soldiers as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition and NATO's mission in Iraq, commanded since May by Spanish General Jose Antonio Aguero Martinez.

On Thursday, Sudani lauded the "coalition's support for Iraqi efforts in its fight against terrorism".

However, Sudani also said Baghdad was "reassessing" its relations with the coalition and, reiterating previous comments, that it "is heading towards the end of the presence of the international coalition" stationed in Iraq since 2014.

The coalition, deployed to fight the Islamic State group, has faced increasing attacks since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, most of which were claimed by Iran-aligned groups opposing Israel.

Sanchez visited the Spanish troops at a military base in Baghdad's high security Green Zone, where he thanked them on Spain's behalf for their "efforts and sacrifices in favour of international security and stability".

"In Iraq, Spain has demonstrated for many years now our solid commitment to something that seems to have been questioned in recent years: multilateralism," he said.

Iraq is experiencing comparative political stability after decades of conflict, but corruption and nepotism remain major obstacles in the oil-rich country.

Dominated by parties close to Iran, an ally of Palestinian militant group Hamas, tensions have escalated in Iraq since the group's unprecedented attack on Israel and the subsequent air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Since mid-October, Washington has documented more than 100 drone and rocket attacks against US and other coalition troops deployed to Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

The majority of the attacks in Iraq have been claimed by Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which opposes US support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

Sanchez, who was accompanied to Baghdad by a delegation of business leaders, said he is dedicated to the development of trade between Spain and Iraq, which derives more than 90 per cent of its income from oil and gas.

Sudani said Iraq would take "preferential measures in favour of Spanish firms" that wanted to establish operations in his country, according to Iraq's official news agency INA.