Trump, Iraqi leader discuss IS fight, Iran
Prime minister says he looks forward to more cooperation.
President WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Monday held his first meeting with Iraq’s prime minister Monday as the American leader shapes his policy for defeating the Islamic State group.
With Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House, Trump said Iran was one of the issues facing his team and the Iraqi delega- tion. He took the opportu- nity to criticize the nuclear deal his predecessor, Barack Obama, pursued with Iran.
“One of the things I did ask is, ‘Why did President Obama sign that agreement with Iran?’ because nobody has been able to figure that one out,” Trump said. “But maybe someday we’ll be able to figure that one out.”
Trump said he hopes to address the “vacuum” that was created when the Islamic State group claimed Iraq and added that “we shouldn’t have gone in” to Iraq in the first place.
Spe aking after Trump during the bilateral meet- ing, al-Abadi said that Iraq has “the strongest counter- terrorism forces, but we are looking forward to more cooperation between us and the U.S.”
Trump campaigned on a promise to dramatically ramp up the assault on IS and has vowed to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism.” So far, he has not indicated a dramatic change of course. Like Obama before him, Trump has not suggested any sharp increases in troop levels or in airstrikes against militant targets, looking to avoid giving off the image of an invading force.
The Iraqi premier’s first visit to Washington since Trump’s inauguration came before Trump hosts a 68-nation meeting geared toward advancing the fight against the militant group.
During al-Abadi’s last visit to Washington, the Iraqi premier worked to drum up greater financial and military support as he faced the daunting task of rebuilding cities destroyed in the fight against the Islamic State group. He also sought greater assistance to help the country confront a humanitarian crisis, with more than 4 million people displaced in the fighting.
But as Iraqi forces come closer to recapturing the city of Mosul the extent to which the Trump administration is willing to commit to efforts to rebuild Iraqi cities, many of them in ruins, remains to be seen.
Trump’s budget proposal would cut by roughly 30 percent funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Both contribute significantly to peacekeeping missions and development programs.
President Donald Trump greets Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi upon his arrival at the White House on Monday.