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Trump to Meet Iraqi President on Sidelines at Davos

US President Donald Trump will meet this week with his Iraqi counterpart, Barham Salih, on the sidelines of the Davos economic conference in Switzerland. The tete-a-tete will be the first between President Trump and any Iraqi official since the January 3 killing of Iranian Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, after which Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, called for the expulsion of American troops, prompting the country’s parliament to pass a bill to this effect. President Trump has formally rejected an Iraqi request to draw up a road map for a troop pullout. The US military has since resumed counter-terrorism operations in the nation against Islamic State, and is slowly moving to restart train-and-support missions with Iraqi forces. These missions were suspended in the wake of Soleimani’s assassination in an operation that also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a deputy commander of Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups collectively known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. The Trump-Salih meeting comes amid political gridlock in Baghdad, with competing factions still unable to agree on the formation of a new cabinet in the wake of November’s resignation of Abdul-Mahdi, who is now overseeing the government in a caretaker capacity.