US pres­i­dent of­fers Iraq US$200 mil­lion in aid

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY NE­DRA PICK­LER

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama pledged US$200 mil­lion in U.S. hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to Iraq Tues­day 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.

Obama made the fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment dur­ing an Oval Of­fice meet­ing with Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi.

Speak­ing to re­porters at the end of the meet­ing, Obama said Iraqi forces are get­ting bet­ter equipped and trained since al-Abadi’s elec­tion seven months ago. He also noted Iraq and a U.S.-led coali­tion have re­cov­ered about one-fourth of the ter­ri­tory the Is­lamic State had cap­tured in the coun­try.

How­ever, Obama said the process of push­ing back the mil­i­tant group will be long and it was cru­cial for the U.S. to help sup­port fam­i­lies who have been dis­placed by the mil­i­tants.

Al-Abadi told re­porters Mon­day that an in­crease in U.S. airstrikes, weapons de­liv­er­ies and train­ing has helped roll back Is­lamic State 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 co­op­er­a­tion to min­i­mize the cri­sis in the re­gion.

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

Obama said that the U.S. ex­pects that Iraq would have close co­or­di­na­tion with its ma­jor­ity-Shi­ite neigh­bor, Iran. But he said 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 co­or­di­nate our ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing through Iraq,” Obama said.

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