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.



Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces agreed with the United Nations on some steps to ease aid delivery in areas under its control, a member of the RSF told Reuters on Thursday.

The Sudanese army has not reached any understandings on aid delivers with the RSF, he added. It is unclear if these steps could be implemented without the army's participation.

Meanwhile, a key supply route into Sudan's Darfur region, deemed at risk of famine by a global monitor, has been cut off due to heavy rains, a World Food Program official told Reuters on Thursday.
The UN agency has described Sudan as the world's biggest hunger crisis, with the western Darfur region most at risk as Sudan's 15-month civil war that has displaced millions and sparked ethnic violence grinds on.
WFP's Country Director Eddie Rowe said thousands of tons of aid are stranded at the Tina crossing on the Chad border, prompting the body to reopen talks with the army-aligned government to open an alternative, all-weather crossing further south called Adre.
"You have these huge rivers. As I speak now, our convoy, which is supposed to move over 2000 metric tons is stranded," he told Reuters from Port Sudan. Asked on the status of the talks that resumed this week, he said: "It's 50/50.”
WFP is now seeking clearances to move a large 70-truck convoy via a little-used, over 1000 kilometer route from Port Sudan to Darfur which Rowe said will involve crossing the battle lines of both the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and various militias.
He added that this mostly desert route has worked in the past but outside of the rainy season and that the last journey took weeks and was "fraught with a lot of challenges.”
In a separate interview, Mona Rishmawi, a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, told Reuters that she had met Darfur refugees in Chad who told her stories of escaping with virtually no water and eating grass along the route. "There's no doubt that people are starving," she said.