By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 – The United States reaffirmed its commitment to advance Iraq's stability by training, equipping and enhancing the capacity of its armed forces for defense and counterterrorism, members of the U.S.-Iraq Defense and Security Cooperation Joint Coordinating Committee said yesterday in a joint statement.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met with acting Iraqi Defense Minister Dr. Sadun al-Dulaymi at the Pentagon on May 22, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement. It was Panetta’s first meeting with the Iraqi defense official, Little said.
“Secretary Panetta thanked Dr. al-Dulaymi for his leadership and the two leaders noted the sacrifices of both nations to help the Iraqi people secure a brighter future,” Little said.
The joint committee on defense and security was established by the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee under the Strategic Framework Agreement signed in 2008 to affirm both nations’ desire to establish long-term bonds of cooperation and friendship.
Defense and security comprise one of the eight areas of cooperation agreed on by Iraq and the United States under the SFA.
The inaugural meeting, held at the Pentagon May 22-24, was co-chaired by al-Dulaymi, Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and James N. Miller, acting undersecretary of defense for policy.
During three days of meetings, the committee discussed future sales of military equipment, joint military exercises, Iraq's strategy to ensure its future stability and security, and other topics.
The nations expanded dialogue on ways to increase strategic cooperation for promoting stability in Iraq and in the region. Both sides discussed ongoing and future security assistance.
Iraq purchased 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft last September, and during the meetings Iraq confirmed its interest in purchasing a second set of 18 F-16s. The United States confirmed its commitment to the sale.
The F-16s and other military equipment will help protect Iraq's sovereignty, meet defense needs and symbolize the long-term security partnership, according to the joint statement.
“The United States commends the Iraqi security forces for their demonstrated capability to protect the Iraqi people and recognizes the continued sacrifice being made to ensure Iraq's security,” the statement said.
“The Iraqi security forces have made great strides in stabilizing the security situation in Iraq,” the statement added, “and in facilitating Iraq's emergence as a strategic partner that promotes and contributes to regional security.”
Iraq will host the committee’s next meeting in Baghdad this fall to build on the foundation laid out this week and continue talks on strengthening defense and security cooperation between the two nations.