Obama meets with Iraq’s Maliki, vows ongoing partnership; no public aid commitment made
President Obama assured visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday that the United States wants to be a strong partner in bringing about a stable and inclusive Iraq amid a rapid spike in sectarian violence that threatens security across the country.
But following a private meeting in the Oval Office, Obama made no public commitment of military equipment or other assistance that Maliki is seeking. The Iraqi leader says U.S. help is vital to containing the security threat in his country posed by a growing al-Qaida.
Obama said he urged Maliki to pass an election law so Iraqis can express their differences politically as opposed to using violence. The U.S. has been seeking to pressure Maliki to stop his Shiite-led government’s political mistreatment of Sunnis and hold him accountable for a failure to govern inclusively.
Obama also said he wanted to “work together” with Maliki to push back against terrorist groups that endanger not only Iraq, but the entire region.
“Unfortunately, al-Qaida has still been active and has grown more active recently,” Obama told reporters.
The meeting came near the end of Maliki’s first visit to Washington in more than two years. He has been lobbying Congress for more security money and to allow the sale of U.S.-manufactured Apache helicopters and other weapons he believes are needed to help stabilize Iraq.
In their brief remarks, neither Obama nor Maliki made any mention of military sales or other assistance to Iraq, although Obama did note that it has been nearly two years since U.S. troops left the country.
Maliki told reporters that he and Obama shared “a common vision” about the rise of terrorism in Iraq and how to fight it.
“We had similar positions and similar ideas,” Maliki said. “We discussed the details of our cooperation, but the people who are in charge will discuss further details about this.”