Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met yesterday [Dec. 5] with a US military delegation headed by James Miller, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
During the meeting, Maliki stressed the Iraqi army’s need for military equipment that would provide the country with the means of defense against any possible attack. He also urged that the deal be concluded between both sides as soon as possible.
James Miller confirmed that the US is keen to increase cooperation with Iraq and to provide the country with the required military and security equipment at the earliest opportunity. Miller added that his delegation will hold talks with Iraqi military and security officials to address all their requirements and the necessary action to this effect.
There is a generally a time lag between the signing of contracts and the buyers’ receipt of the products in US arms deals.
Iraq has struck a deal to buy $950 million worth of F-16 aircraft. The first batch of two aircrafts will be delivered early next year.
Iraq confirmed its need for these warplanes and for sealing the arms deal in anticipation of developments in the region, in reference to the Syrian crisis.
Acting Iraqi Minister of Defense Saadoun al-Dulaimi discussed with the US delegation ways to share experience between Iraq and the US in the fight against terrorism.
In a statement, the ministry said that the defense minister received Miller and his delegation as part of a series of meetings to implement the strategic agreement signed between the two countries. The agreement stipulated that the American side shall be committed to develop the defense capabilities of the Iraqi army at the level of armament and training, as well as equipment and information-sharing in the fight against terrorism.
Miller arrived in Baghdad earlier yesterday to represent his country in the meeting of the US-Iraqi joint security and military committee, and to hold talks with Iraqi officials regarding military cooperation and armament between the two countries.
On another note, the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency quoted an Iraqi security source stating that a plot to assassinate Ali al-Sistani — the number-one cleric in Najaf — and others was foiled.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry also announced in a statement issued yesterday the arrest of 14 people armed with explosive materials and carrying pictures of former president Saddam Hussein. The statement added that a joint force of police and army soldiers captured the militants during a raid conducted while they were scouting different areas in the al-Dibs district in the Kirkuk province. In a similar development, the police of Wasit Province, south of Baghdad, arrested nine people on suspicion of being involved in terrorism during a security operation that took place in the northern regions of the province.