United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the Iraqi government on Saturday to step up efforts to foster reconciliation between the nation’s Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities to help defeat the DAESH terrorist group.
"National reconciliation is an important part of the strategy to defeat DAESH, who have ruthlessly exploited divisions and targeted the marginalized and disenfranchised," Ban told a joint news conference in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi.
Ban's comments referred to distrust amongst Sunni Muslim communities who say they were marginalised under the Shiite-led government installed in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.
World Bank President Jim Young Kim and president of the Islamic Development Bank Ahmad Mohamed Ali joined Ban in the rare visit to the Iraqi capital Baghdad and were expected to accompany him to the northern Kurdish city of Erbil later in the day.
Ali said that the bank would contribute to the reconstruction of areas destroyed in fighting between DAESH and Iraqi forces seeking to recapture them.
Kim told lawmakers that Iraq needed to do more to empower local governments, encourage the private sector and reform the state's economic policies which are hamstrung by waste and corruption.
"Inefficient state owned enterprises that stifle private sector development need to be reformed, so a more vibrant entrepreneurial sector can emerge," Kim said, according to a copy of the speech posted on the parliament's website.
Kim added that Iraq would "feature prominently" in the bank's plans to invest $20 billion in the region by 2021, without providing details.
In 2015, the World Bank gave Iraq around $2 billion for reconstruction, infrastructure and emergency budget support to help it tackle the economic effects of the fight against DAESH and the low price of oil, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of government revenues.
The officials also met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari and later addressed a closed session of Iraq's parliament.