President Barack Obama met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi in White House Tuesday and pledged his support in fight against ISIS.
Obama praised Abadi for his efforts in the fight against ISIS and his commitment to keep the promises he made to unite different groups in Iraq.
“Thanks to his leadership, as well as the partnership and sacrifices made by over 60 members of an international coalition, we are making serious progress in pushing back ISIL out of Iraqi territory,” Obama said.
Iraqi government forces, supported by U.S. air strikes and Iranian backed Shiite militias, have retaken city of Tikrit, located around 180 kilometers from capital Baghdad, from ISIS.
“I think both Sunni leaders and Kurdish leaders feel that they are heard in the halls of power, that they are participating in governance in Baghdad,” Obama said, praising Abadi for sticking “true to his commitments.”
Obama announced that the U.S. is “committing an additional $200 million in humanitarian aid” to help Iraq tackle problems it is facing.
However, Obama did not mention commitment to any military aid.
Answering a question whether the U.S. will give Apache helicopters, drones or F-16 fighter jets that Iraqi government have been asking, Obama said: “We are continually improving our coordination to make sure that Iraqi security forces are in a position to succeed in our common mission,” refraining from giving a positive answer.
“Mr. President, I want to thank you for your support for Iraq. Whether it’s through training or the provision of weapons, or even the air cover that you have provided to the Iraqi security forces in their fight against ISIL, you have helped our forces in this national liberation war that it’s engaged in,” Abadi said, however he did not mention any specific military aid that Iraq is currently requesting.
Two leaders also talked about the involvement of Iran in Iraq’s fight against ISIS.
“I think that, as I’ve said before and I will repeat, we expect Iran to have an important relationship with Iraq as a close neighbor,” Obama said. However he added: “Any foreign assistance that is helping to defeat ISIL has to go through the Iraqi government. That’s how you respect Iraqi sovereignty.”
The leaders were cautiously optimistic about the future of the fight against ISIS as Obama said: “This is a long process, and in our discussions, Prime Minister Abadi made clear that success will not occur overnight. But what is clear is that we will be successful.”
After his meeting with Obama, Prime Minister Abadi is scheduled to meet Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and some other ranking members of the Senate.
Abadi also has scheduled speeches in think tanks and business organizations.