Trump, Iraqi leader dis­cuss IS fight, Iran

Prime min­is­ter says he looks for­ward to more co­op­er­a­tion.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY'S TOP NEWS - By Vi­vian Salama As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

T.J. KIRK­PATRICK / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump greets Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi upon his ar­rival at the White House on Mon­day.

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