BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked US President Donald Trump in a phone call to remove his country from a contentious travel ban list, a statement said on Friday.
Iraq is one of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens are barred from entering the United States for 90 days under an executive order the newly sworn in US president signed on January 27.
The ban was suspended by a lower court a week later and a federal appeals court on Thursday refused to reinstate it but Trump vowed to continue the legal battle for his order to stand.
“The prime minister stressed the importance of a review of the decision on the right of Iraqis to travel to the United States,” Abadi’s office said in a statement after the phone call.
Abadi urged Trump to “lift Iraq from the list of countries mentioned in the executive order,” the statement said.
The statement said: “Mr Trump stressed the importance of coordination to find a solution to this issue as soon as possible and that he will direct the US State Department in this regard.”
Washington is a key economic, political and military ally for Baghdad, including in the war it has been waging against the Islamic State jihadist group for almost three years.
Abadi had argued when the decree was first issued that the measure, which Trump has billed as an effort to make America safe from “radical Islamic terrorists”, was tantamount to punishing those fighting terrorism.
The statement said Abadi had expressed his wish to further develop relations with the United States and Trump had renewed an invitation for him to visit.
Trump’s attempt to impose travel restrictions on Iraqis comes after an assertion that the United States should have seized the country’s oil before withdrawing its forces in 2011.