Obama Offers Iraq $200 Million In Humanitarian Aid
April 14, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama has offered Iraq $200 million in humanitarian aid to help those displaced by Islamic State (IS) militants, but declined to say whether Washington would provide Apache helicopters and other weapons to Baghdad.
The offer of assistance appeared to fall short of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's request for greater military support.
Obama, who met with Abadi in the White House on April 12, said families and children have suffered because of the group's activities and the United States needs to support them.
Obama also hailed the progress he said the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces were making against the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
Obama said the allies were 'making serious progress' in pushing back IS militants and thanked Abadi for living up to his commitment to make Iraq's government more inclusive.
He added that Iraq and a U.S.-led coalition have recovered about one-fourth of the territory IS had captured in the country.
Obama said Iraqi forces are getting better equipped and trained since Abadi's election seven months ago.
However, Obama said the process of pushing back the militant group will be long.
Abadi told reporters April 13 that an increase in U.S. air strikes, weapons deliveries, and training has helped roll back IS fighters, but he needed greater support from the international coalition to 'finish' them. 'We want to see more,' Abadi said.
The Iraqi leader made a similar appeal in the Oval Office on April 14, voicing hope for more international cooperation to minimize the crisis in the region.
Obama said the two leaders discussed at length Iran's involvement in the fight against militants in Iraq -- a major point of concern for Washington.
Shi'ite 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 United States expects that Iraq would have close coordination with Iran, its majority-Shi'ite neighbor.
But he said that any foreign support must be channeled through Iraq's government and be answerable to Iraq's chain of command.
Obama said foreign fighters in Iraq must respect its sovereignty.
'It is very important for us to coordinate our activities going through Iraq,' Obama said.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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