Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (File photo)
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is set to visit the United States and meet with President Donald Trump in Washington this month, the White House says.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made the announcement during a regular news briefing on Tuesday, saying that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit next week and "the following week, the president will welcome the prime minister of Iraq." The spokesman did not provide any further details.
The meeting comes as tensions between Washington and Baghdad have escalated since the new US president introduced a travel ban on Iraqis visiting the United States. The measure, however, was frozen after Trump revised the ban and excluded Iraq from the original list following the country’s cooperation with the US in the fight against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
The exemption was hailed by the Iraqi government and described as an "important step" that boosts bilateral relations.
"The Iraqi foreign ministry expresses its deep satisfaction with the executive order issued by President Donald Trump which includes an exemption for Iraqis from the ban on travel to the United States of America," said Ahmed Jamal, the spokesman for Iraq's Foreign Ministry.
Trump’s new directive bans citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. It will maintain a 90-day entry ban on citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
The decree was slammed by rights groups in the US, including Human Rights Watch, the Interfaith Alliance, the United Farm Workers of America, and The New York Immigration Coalition.
The US state of Hawaii also said on Tuesday that it intends to seek a temporary restraining order against Trump's new directive.

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