(BRUSSELS) — Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s complaints Wednesday about an emergency “salvation government” and said that he was convinced that Maliki remained committed to fulfilling the United States’ requests for a new inclusive government in Iraq.
“I’ve had no discussion with any leader regarding a salvation government,” Kerry said Wednesday after a day of meetings at NATO in Brussels.
Kerry noted that in Maliki’s weekly TV address Wednesday, he had called on all Iraqis to put aside their differences to unite against terrorism — which was something Kerry urged Maliki to ask for.
“What he said today with respect to the things we talked about was entirely in line with the conversations that I had with him when I was there, and the constitutional process that we’ve urged all Iraqis to commit to,” Kerry said.
Maliki used his televised speech to tell Iraqis that forming such an emergency government would be a “coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience” — even as he called for national unity above sectarian divisions.
Kerry also commented on the involvement of Iran and Syria in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq, as reports surface that Iran is flying drone missions over Baghdad and Syria is also striking targets in Iraq.
“Frankly, you should best address that question to Iran and the government of Iraq,” he said when asked whether Iran’s involvement complicates the United States’ goals in Iraq.
“It’s very important that nothing take place that contributes to the extremism or could act as a flashpoint with respect to the sectarian divide,” Kerry continued.
Earlier, the State Department said it was aware of Syria’s attacks within Iraq.
“We are aware of the reports that the Syrian government has taken strikes against targets in Iraq. We have no reason to dispute these reports. We’d refer you to the Government of Iraq for additional details,” spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“More broadly, we continue to underscore that the solution to the threat confronting Iraq is not the intervention of the Assad regime, which allowed ISIL to thrive in the first place. The solution to Iraq’s security challenge does not involve militias or the murderous Assad regime, but the strengthening of the Iraqi security forces to combat threats. Iraq’s sovereignty must be respected, and the Government of Iraq must focus now on strengthening its internal political and security institutions in an inclusive way,” Psaki continued.
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