Kerry Meets With Iraqi Leaders Amid Ongoing Violence

johnkerry 062314

Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Monday to meet with government officials regarding the ongoing Sunni insurgency.

Kerry met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as well as major Sunni and Shiite leaders.

Following his meeting with al-Maliki, Kerry stressed the importance of taking immediate steps to bring the country's different factions together to fight the insurgents.

"This is a critical moment for Iraq's future," Kerry said. "It is a moment of decision for Iraq's leaders and it's a moment of great urgency."

He added, "The very future of Iraq depends on choices that will be made in the next days and weeks, and the future of Iraq depends primarily on the ability of Iraq's leaders to come together and take a stand united against the ISIL."

Kerry's trip to Iraq comes as the terrorist group known as the ISIL continues to make gains, with reports indicating that the militants have seized more territory on Iraq's borders with Jordan and Syria.

The Secretary of State's stop in Iraq came on the heels of meetings with government officials in Egypt and the Jordanian Foreign Minister.

Kerry is also scheduled to travel to Europe to meet with key regional partners and Gulf allies on Middle East security challenges, including Iraq and Syria.

U.S. officials, including Kerry and President Barack Obama, have repeatedly called on Iraqi leaders to rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for the country's future.

"Shia, Sunni, Kurds, all Iraqis must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence," Obama said in remarks last Thursday.

Al-Maliki has been criticized for imposing sectarian policies that contributed to the rise of the Sunni insurgency.

Obama has stated that he will not send American forces back into combat in Iraq but said the U.S. will take steps to help the Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists.

As part of the efforts to provide support for Iraqi security forces, Obama said he is prepared to send up to 300 American military advisers to Iraq to assess how to best train, advise and support the security forces going forward.

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