In the first face-to-face meeting between leaders of each country, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with President Trump at the White House on Monday.
Although a paramount topic of discussions between the two men was the situation in the Middle East, particularly the continued struggle to defeat ISIS, Mr. Abadi thanked Trump for removing Iraq from the president’s recently reissued travel moratorium banning citizens of six other Muslim-majority countries.
A statement released by the White House describing the meeting read in part:
“As Iraqi forces consolidate gains against ISIS/Da’esh, the two leaders agreed that the United States and Iraq will pursue a long-term partnership to decisively root out terrorism from Iraq and strengthen the Iraqi military and other key institutions. Together with our partners in the 68-member Global Coalition against ISIS/Da’esh, the United States will continue training and support for Iraqi forces to bring about the terrorist group’s decisive and enduring defeat and further build the capabilities of Iraqi forces.”
Following the meeting with Trump, Abadi spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace and later attended a dinner with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Addressing those gathered at the Institute of Peace, the Iraqi leader expressed optimism over his meeting with the U.S. president.
“We have been given assurances that the support will not only continue, but will accelerate,” he said. “The important thing for us was that we see an administration and a president who see and appreciate what we are doing and give us support. But of course we have to be careful here. We are not talking about military confrontation as such. Committing troops is one thing, while fighting terrorism is another thing.”
Often a private critic of the Obama administration’s ISIS policy, Abadi was frequently frustrated with what he considered military half measures of the former president.
Mr. Abadi did, however, say he was pleased with the progress Iraqi troops have made against ISIS and praised the contributions from Kurdish Peshmerga forces in driving the militant group from Iraq territory.
Iraqi troops are currently on the cusp of liberating Mosul, the last major ISIS strongholds in the country
Abadi concluded his remarks at the Institute of Peace by saying he would welcome a UN commission to probe ISIS crimes and asserted his desire to remain out of any potential conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran.
[Reuters] [AP] [Photo courtesy AP/Evan Vucci via Voice of America]