Friday 20 April 2018

Obama offers Iraq humanitarian aid

Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi with president Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House. (AP)
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi with president Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House. (AP)

Barack Obama has pledged 200 million dollars (£136 million) in humanitarian aid to Iraq to help those displaced by Islamic State militants, an offer of assistance that appeared to fall short of the Iraqi prime minister's request for greater military support.

The US president made the financial commitment during an Oval Office meeting with Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the meeting, Mr Obama said Iraqi forces have been getting better equipped and trained since Mr al-Abadi's election seven months ago. He also noted that Iraq and a US-led coalition have recovered about a quarter of the territory IS had captured in the country.

However, Mr Obama said the process of pushing back the militant group will be long and it was crucial for the US to help support families displaced by the militants.

Mr al-Abadi has said an increase in US air strikes, weapons deliveries and training had helped roll back IS forces, but he needed greater support from the international coalition to "finish" them. "We want to see more," he said.

The Iraqi leader made a similar appeal in the Oval Office, saying he hoped for more international co-operation to minimise the crisis in the region.

Mr Obama said the two leaders also discussed Iran's involvement in the fight against militants in Iraq, a major point of concern for the US. Shiite militias believed to be backed by Tehran are playing a major role in helping the Iraqi military roll back IS advances in the country.

The US leader said he expects Iraq to have close co-ordination with its majority-Shiite neighbour Iran, but he added that any foreign assistance must be orchestrated through Iraq's government and be answerable to Iraq's chain of command.

"It is very important for us to co-ordinate our activities going through Iraq," Mr Obama said.

Press Association

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