President Barack Obama has offered $200m of US aid to Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to help people displaced by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The White House said that Iraq did not make any specific requests for military assistance from the US when the two heads of state met in Washington DC on Tuesday.
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Reporting from the White House, Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane said: “We were told by the Iraqi side they had a long list of requests, but the US press secretary said they didn’t hear any of that, that Abadi didn’t ask any specific questions about assistance”.
“There was a big disconnect between what the US and Baghdad thought they’d get out of the meeting”.
In a warning to Iran-backed militias, Obama stressed that all foreign aid must go through the Iraqi government, and that the Iraqi government will be held accountable for any abuse,
“Obama said that the Iraqi government would have to take responsibility for any war crimes committed with US equipment”, Culhane reported.
Obama said: “Any foreign assistance that is helping defeat ISIL has to go through the Iraq government. That’s how you respect Iraqi sovereignty. That’s [how] you recognise the democratic government that was hard earned and that is being upheld in the work Prime Minister Abadi is doing in reaching out to all the various factions in Iraq.”
The two men, Obama said, had discussed Iran’s role in Iraq at length. The president also announced $200m in additional US humanitarian aid to Iraq but declined to say whether Washington would provide Apache helicopters and other arms to Baghdad.
In his first US trip since becoming prime minister, Abadi was looking for billions of dollars in drones and other US weapons to combat ISIL, which seized much of northern and central Iraq last year.
“We need support from the U.S. and the coalition forces and regional government. And President Obama and the US administration have expressed full readiness to provide support for our security forces in our effort to liberate all of Iraq,” al-Abadi said.
While the two men met inside the White House, demonstrators protested outside.
Protesters say Tehran wields enormous influence in Iraq and they want the US to encourage al-Abadi to distance himself from Tehran, which they say has been aggressive with its neighbours in the region.
They are also pushing for Camp Liberty in Iraq – an Iranian dissident camp – to be declared a refugee camp under United Nations’ supervision – which they say will relieve al-Abadi of “pressure from the Iranian regime.”
The visit to the US was al-Abadi’s first since being elected.