The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, hosted, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq Mr Fuad Hussein, for the UK-Iraq Strategic Dialogue in London on 3-4 July 2023.
The Strategic Dialogue builds on the signing of the UK-Iraq Strategic Partnership in Baghdad in June 2021 which deepened bilateral co-operation and reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the long-term security, stability and sovereignty of Iraq.
The Strategic Dialogue also follows the visit of the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Lord Ahmad, to Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, from 28 February to 2 March 2023.
The Strategic Dialogue underlined the strength and breadth of the bilateral relationship between the UK and Iraq and both governments reaffirmed their commitment to work together for our shared regional and global interests.
The Ministers agreed to develop and further co-operation on a wide range of sectors, including:
The Ministers discussed the importance of building a prosperous future for the Iraqi people and the UK’s commitment to support Iraq, including through the Iraq Economic Contact Group, as it undertakes the bold long-term reforms needed to put Iraq’s economy and society on a stable footing.
Both sides welcomed the Government of Iraq’s ambitious economic reform agenda – and agreed on the necessity of rapidly delivering non-oil growth, private sector job creation and improving access to finance.
They agreed on the importance of Iraq swiftly completing its accession to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development in 2023, and continuing to work closely with the International Monetary Fund on a long term program to support Iraq, as well as joining other international finance institutions, such as the European Investment Bank.
The UK committed to share expertise through government-to-government exchanges; and provide bilateral support and technical assistance to deliver economic reform in key areas such as building economic capacity, diversifying government revenue sources and improving access to finance, and facilitating Iraq’s accession to the WTO.
With bilateral trade increasing the two sides convened the sixth meeting of the UK-Iraq Trade Council, following the fifth in Baghdad in January 2019.
Experts discussed how to encourage greater investment into Iraq and how to remove barriers to trade.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs also met leading UK businesses to identify new commercial opportunities.
Both sides agreed their intention to finalise the UK-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement as soon as possible and put it to their respective parliaments this year.
Climate and Environment
Ahead of COP28 later this year, the Ministers discussed the importance of working together tackling climate and environmental issues and agreed to increase high level engagement over the rest of 2023.
Both sides welcomed the UK’s support in further developing and strengthening Iraq’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The UK also outlined technical assistance opportunities, including a program with the UK Met Office to support Iraq’s capacity to prepare for and respond to sand and dust storms.
Defence and Security
The Ministers agreed on the importance of continuing to remove the space for Daesh to operate in Iraq and welcomed the commitment of both the UK and Iraq to support the Global Coalition Against Daesh.
They also welcomed the Government of Iraq’s commitment to protect the Coalition sites and diplomatic premises in Iraq.
The Ministers recognised the crucial efforts by both sides on rehabilitation and reintegration of displaced Iraqi citizens including those returning from Al-Hol camp in North-East Syria, and reiterated the importance of international coordination to support pathways to durable solutions for camp residents.
Both sides recognised the UK’s work with the Iraqi Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs on Professional Military Education and agreed that the Iraqi military will continue to participate in officer training within the UK, including places at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, and Royal Air Force College Cranwell, as well as places at the Defence Academy Shrivenham and the Royal College of Defence Studies.
Recognising modern threats posed by cyber, both sides agreed to deepen engagement on cyber security, including through the UK’s support of the newly established Cyber Security Directorate within the Iraqi Ministry of Defence.
Migration and Serious Organised Crime
Ministers discussed the shared challenges that the UK and Iraq face in tackling serious organised crime and the drivers of migration.
The Ministers reviewed areas for further cooperation to ensure safe and legal migration, including targeted programming to better understand and address the drivers of illegal migration and establish robust and trusted processes for migration cooperation, including reintegration packages.
The UK will bolster its support to strengthen Iraq’s borders through mutually agreed programs.
Both sides reiterated the importance of developing Iraq’s health sector. They welcomed the UK’s ongoing £35m Demographic Transition program that aims to support the Government of Iraq to deliver Family Planning and Sexual Reproductive Health services in line with Iraqi rules and law.
Ministers discussed the need to continue our cooperation on human rights and support for women and girls – particularly survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
The UK welcomed the Government of Iraq’s recent efforts to implement the Yazidi Survivors’ Law and both sides recognised UK support to the launch of the reparations applications process – through which over 800 women and girls have begun receiving reparations – and launch a referral pathway for mental health and psychosocial support services.
Both sides also discussed the vital need to support children born of conflict-related sexual violence and welcomed Iraq agreeing to consider making voluntary commitments under the Platform for Action on Promoting the Rights and Wellbeing of Children born of conflict-related sexual violence.
Bilateral and regional politics
Ministers welcomed efforts by the Government of Iraq to further build relations with the region in the pursuit of stability and cooperation, including through the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership.
The UK welcomed efforts to connect Iraq to the GCC’s power grid and establish greater energy connections with the region.
The Republic of Iraq and the United Kingdom look forward to concluding the Strategic Dialogue sessions and reviewing their progress at the next Strategic Dialogue, planned for 2024 in Baghdad.