- Trump, Abadi met at White House Monday
- Leaders reaffirm commitment to SFA, shared goal of ISIS defeat
Trump met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House Monday, with both leaders praising the partnership that has seen significant gains in retaking territory, including progress in liberating Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which has been under militant control for three years.
“The two leaders agreed that the United States and Iraq will pursue a long-term partnership to decisively root out terrorism from Iraq and strengthen the Iraqi military and other key institutions,” a White House readout from the talks said.
The two leaders agreed to promote a “broad-based political and economic partnership based in the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA),” the bilateral agreement which has been the cornerstone of US support of Iraq since 2008.
Abadi: ISIS a priority
Prior to the trip, Abadi said Iraqi forces were close to ridding the country of ISIS and that he would talk to the US administration about the final steps needed.
“We are in the last chapter, the final stages to eliminate ISIS militarily in Iraq,” he said in a video statement.
Abadi said he hoped the US and other allies would continue to offer economic assistance to Iraq, which he said faced a financial crisis as a result of the war against the militant group.
If approved by Congress, more than $3 billion of the additional money would be allocated to the fight against ISIS, including $2 billion for a flexible fund that would allow the Pentagon to decide how to utilize resources in support of the new counter-ISIS strategy.
Speaking at a United States Institute for Peace (USIP) event Monday, Abadi said that he felt that the Trump administration wants to be “more engaged in fighting terrorism.”
However, he admitted that he wasn’t up to date on Trump’s plan to combat the ISIS threat.
“I haven’t seen a full plan. I know there is a plan, I haven’t seen it. We have our own plan. But we need to have a plan together, the region must have a plan to wipe out terrorism” he said.
Travel ban controversy
It is not clear from the official readout if the two leaders discussed Trump’s controversial travel ban, which seeks to ban travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from visiting the US.
The Iraqi government objected after its citizens were included on the first iteration of the executive order, which was struck down by an appeal court.
In the two leaders’ meeting, Trump criticized his predecessor’s policies in the region. He queried “why President Obama signed that agreement with Iran, because nobody’s been able to figure that one out,” referencing the Iran nuclear deal.