AL­LIES GATHER TO

Of­fi­cials from 68 na­tions meet in US to get more info on Trump’s strat­egy

New Straits Times - - World -

WASH­ING­TON

MIN­IS­TERS from the 68-na­tion United States-led coali­tion fight­ing the Is­lamic State (IS) group met here yes­ter­day to hear more about US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s plan to de­stroy the ji­hadists’ re­main­ing strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Trump has or­dered his gen­er­als to craft an ac­cel­er­ated strat­egy to “erad­i­cate” the group’s so­called caliphate, and al­lied part­ners are keen to learn more at the day-long min­is­te­rial-level dis­cus­sion.

The meet­ing at the State Depart­ment also al­lows Trump’s dis­creet sec­re­tary of state, Rex Tiller­son, to emerge from the shad­ows and stamp his author­ity on the diplo­matic side of the joint ef­fort.

But Trump’s plan to slash 28 per cent from the State Depart­ment’s bud­get for diplo­macy and for­eign aid sug­gests fewer re­sources for post-con­flict sta­bil­i­sa­tion — a pro­posal that has raised eye­brows.

Euro­pean diplo­mats said they ex­pect Wash­ing­ton to reaf­firm its com­mit­ment to a longer-term plan to se­cure the re­gion af­ter a bat­tle­field vic­tory.

Iraq’s Prime Min­is­ter Haider alAbadi was here just ahead of the talks, and said vic­tory against IS was within sight if its al­lies stick to­gether.

“We are prov­ing that Daesh can be killed, can be elim­i­nated,” alAbadi said at the US In­sti­tute for

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