Iraq's Abadi says he wins Trump's assurances of more U.S. support

Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:25am GMT
 

By Phil Stewart and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he won assurances of greater U.S. support in fighting Islamic State militants in talks on Monday with President Donald Trump and top advisers, but cautioned that military might alone would not be sufficient.

Abadi's remarks followed his first face-to-face meeting at the White House with Trump, who took office on Jan. 20 pledging a new strategy to defeat the hardline militant group that seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Even before Trump took office, Iraqi forces recaptured a string of major cities from Islamic State, shrank the militant group's finances and significantly stemmed the flow of foreign fighters, all with the support of U.S.-led coalition air strikes and military advisers.

Abadi said Trump appeared more enthusiastic about battling Islamist extremists than Barack Obama's administration had been.

"I think they're prepared to do more to fight terrorism and be more engaged," Abadi told a forum in Washington hours after his meeting with Trump, adding he had been told U.S. "support will not only continue but will accelerate."

"But of course we have to be careful here," Abadi said. "We are not talking about military confrontation as such. Committing troops is one thing, while fighting terrorism is another thing."

Abadi, who leads the Shi'ite majority government in Baghdad, said it would be crucial to win over the local population in Sunni-dominated Mosul to achieve lasting peace.

A White House statement about the meeting said both Trump and Abadi agreed that "terrorism cannot be defeated by military might alone," and the two leaders called for deepening commercial ties, including in the energy sector.   Continued...

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
 
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.