The United States and Iraq are drafting plans to reduce the former’s presence in the latter into a purely advisory role by the end of 2021.
A formal announcement is expected on 26 July when Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visits U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, reports said citing US officials.
A military delegation led by Iraq's national security adviser met with top Pentagon officials on Thursday to lay groundwork for the latest round of dialogue between the two governments, which will include discussion of the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters.
A U.S. official said the plan calls for redefining the role of the approximately 2,500 U.S. troops in the country, instead of withdrawing them.
"It is not really a numerical adjustment but rather a functional clarification of what the force would be doing consistent with our strategic priorities," an unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal.
The plan envisages an end to the 18 year US combat mission in Iraq, the forces now being re-tasked to provide logistical, advisory and Intelligence support to the Iraqi government’s conflict with the Islamic State.
"We don't need any more fighters because we have those," Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told The Wall Street Journal. "What do we need? We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air."
The U.S. and Iraq intend to remain long-term military powers unlike relations of U.S. and Afghanistan where the towns have steadily fallen to the Taliban during the U.S. withdrawal.