New Delhi (ABC Live): Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki on Monday told the visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the crisis in Iraq is a threat to peace in the region and the world as well, according to an official statement.
“What is happening in Iraq poses a threat not only to Iraq but to regional and global peace,” Maliki’s office quoted the prime minister as saying during a meeting with Kerry in Baghdad Green Zone.
Maliki called on the international community, especially countries in the region, to deal with the threat seriously.
The Shiite Iraqi leader also mentioned that a timetable for forming a new government, and electing the country’s three top posts, including the president, the prime minister and the parliament speaker, has already been set according to the constitution.
Kerry reiterated the U.S. commitment to the protection of the security and independence of Iraq, as well as its support to the country in combating terrorism, represented by the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant or ISIL, an al-Qaida offshoot, said the statement.
It also said that Kerry agreed that “Daash” (Arabic first letters of the ISIL) poses a menace to Iraq, the region and the world.
“Washington was prepared to reflect that (support) on the ground,” the statement quoted Kerry as saying, reaffirming Washington’s commitment to the strategic framework agreement with Baghdad, particularly security cooperation.
Washington’s top diplomat arrived in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad earlier in the day for talks with Iraqi leaders on the current security crisis as the country is trying to curb a Sunni blitzkrieg.
Kerry is also expected to meet with the Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, and the leading Shiite cleric Ammar al- Hakim, as well as other Iraqi officials, before he travel to Arbil, capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to meet with the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.
Kerry’s visit is part of a tour in the Middle East to consult with U.S. partners and allies on measures to support security, stability, and the formation of an inclusive government in Iraq, as well as other developments in the region.
His visit to the country came amid a worsening security conditions that began less than two weeks ago when armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by an al-Qaida splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, launched a surprise offensive that led to the debacle of Iraqi security forces, and the fallen of a large part of the country’s northern and western territories.
Kerry would discuss U.S. actions to assist Iraq as it confronts the security threat, and urge Iraqi leaders to move forward as quickly as possible with its government formation process to forge a government that “represents the interests of Iraqis,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
On Sunday, Kerry said in Cairo at the end of his visit to Egypt that the United States “would not pick or choose” who rules in Baghdad, adding that Washington had noted the dissatisfaction among Kurds, Sunnis and some Shiites with the current Iraqi leadership.
He also said that the United States wanted Iraqis to “find a leadership that was prepared to be inclusive and share power.”
The Shiite-led government has urged the United States to raid the jihadists with air strikes, while the Obama administration so far only agreed to a plan of limited military support. Washington also urged Iraq to form a more inclusive government to quell a Sunni insurgency.
Later on, Kerry will travel to Brussels to participate in a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting.