Iraq PM Invited to Meet with US President Biden at White House 

13 January 2023, Berlin: Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani speaks during a press conference. (dpa)
13 January 2023, Berlin: Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani speaks during a press conference. (dpa)
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Iraq PM Invited to Meet with US President Biden at White House 

13 January 2023, Berlin: Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani speaks during a press conference. (dpa)
13 January 2023, Berlin: Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani speaks during a press conference. (dpa)

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Monday and received an invitation from US President Joe Biden to visit the White House, a State Department spokesperson said.

Sudani, who is in New York to participate in the UN General Assembly, said a date for the official visit to Washington would be set at a later time, Iraqi state media reported.

Biden and Sudani have yet to meet since Sudani took office last year after being appointed by a coalition of parties, predominantly pro-Iran groups known as the Coordination Framework.

He has since walked a diplomatic tightrope between the US and Iran, two countries that in the past have fought out their rivalry on Iraqi soil.

Sudani and Blinken "renewed their commitment to continue strengthening the partnership between the two countries," the State Department spokesperson said.

Iraq has been a close partner of the US since Washington's 2003 invasion and both sides say they are trying to broaden their relationship from a near-singular focus on defense and counter-terrorism towards economic cooperation.

Blinken during the meeting "underscored US support" for the re-opening of a pipeline between Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region and Türkiye that has been shut since March.

Türkiye said last week the pipeline, which contributes about 0.5% of world oil supply, would be ready to resume operations soon, though it is unclear whether Baghdad and Ankara have agreed to the terms of a resumption of crude flows.

Blinken also "commended the Prime Minister’s commitment to judicial independence in Iraq’s recent conviction and sentencing of multiple individuals on terrorism charges in connection with the killing of US citizen Stephen Troell."

Iraq last month sentenced an Iranian man and four Iraqis to life in prison over Troell's November 2022 killing in a middle class neighborhood in central Baghdad.

Court officials did not name the defendants but said the four Iraqis were members of a Shiite militia.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.