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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in January 2019. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday that the U.S. should send delegates to Iraq in order to determine the best way to withdraw all of its troops there, the AP reports.

The big picture: While tensions between the U.S. and Iran seem to be lessening, Abul-Mahdi is standing his ground and backing the Iraqi parliament's non-binding resolution to expel all U.S. troops from the country.

  • Iraq was the proxy battleground between the U.S. and Iran — with the storming of the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad, the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian retaliation against U.S. bases all taking place on its soil.

Why it matters: A U.S. exit from Iraq could ultimately be one of the most consequential results of the escalation in U.S.-Iran tensions, because it would significantly hamper the fight against ISIS and achieve a major Iranian objective.

  • In a statement, Abdul-Mahdi's office said Iraq rejects all violations against its sovereignty and asked Pompeo to "send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism to carry out the parliament’s resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq."
  • Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has previously said U.S. troops will not be leaving Iraq, despite a snafu earlier this week over a "poorly worded" letter that seemed to indicate a withdrawal.

The other side: The State Department issued a statement rebuffing Abdul-Mahdi's request, saying, "At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East."

  • "Our military presence in Iraq is to continue the fight against ISIS and as the Secretary has said, we are committed to protecting Americans, Iraqis, and our coalition partners."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes are near

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise its main target interest rate in mid-March, as Chair Jerome Powell pledged to be "humble and nimble" in adapting policy to a fast-changing economy.

Why it matters: Fed leaders are looking to choke off inflation by raising interest rates in the near future, but keeping its options open for how fast and far the effort will go.

How long it’s taken to confirm Supreme Court justices

Expand chart
Data: Axios research, U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court Historical Society; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

It takes a U.S. president an average of 70 days from the date a Supreme Court seat is vacated to nominate a replacement, according to data from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Why it matters: With news outlets reporting liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire, Democrats will be looking to confirm President Biden's nominee with enough time to refocus the national political debate ahead of the midterms.

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