At the President’s direction, Secretary of State John Kerry is on travel from June 22-27 to the Middle East and Europe to consult with partners and allies on how we can support security, stability, and the formation of an inclusive government in Iraq, to discuss Middle East security challenges, and to attend the NATO Foreign Ministerial.
On June 23, Secretary Kerry arrived in Baghdad, Iraq, where he met with a Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum, including Prime Minister Maliki, to discuss the crisis in Iraq. Following on President Obama's announcement last week, he discussed U.S. actions underway to assist Iraq as it confronts this threat from ISIL and urged Iraqi leaders to move forward as quickly as possible with its government formation process to forge a government that represents the interests of all Iraqis. During a press availability in Baghdad, Secretary Kerry said:
"...President Obama asked me to visit Baghdad today to demonstrate America’s support for Iraq and its people during this time of crisis. This is clearly a moment when the stakes for Iraq’s future could not be clearer. ISIL’s campaign of terror, their grotesque acts of violence and repressive ideology pose a grave danger to Iraq’s future. ISIL is not, as it claims, fighting on behalf of Sunnis. ISIL is not fighting for a stronger Iraq; quite the contrary. ISIL is fighting to divide Iraq and to destroy Iraq.
"So this is a critical moment for Iraq’s future. It is a moment of decision for Iraq’s leaders, and it’s a moment of great urgency. Iraq faces an existential threat, and Iraq’s leaders have to meet that threat with the incredible urgency that it demands. The very future of Iraq depends on choices that will be made in the next days and weeks. And the future of Iraq depends primarily on the ability of Iraq’s leaders to come together and take a stand united against ISIL -- not next week, not next month, but now.
"In each of my meetings today, I stressed that urgency and I stressed the responsibility of Iraq’s leaders to act, whether the meeting with Prime Minister Maliki, with speaker Nujaifi, with ISCI leader Hakim, or Foreign Minister Zebari, I emphasize that defending Iraq against ISIL depends largely on their ability – all of them – to form a new government and to do it quickly. It is essential that Iraq’s leaders form a genuinely inclusive government as rapidly as possible within their own constitutional framework.
"It’s also crystal-clear that ISIL’s rise puts more than one country at risk. ISIL threatens the stability of the entire region and it is a threat also to the United States and to the West – self-declared. Iraq’s neighbors can bolster Iraq’s security, as well as their own, by supporting the formation of an Iraqi government that represents all Iraqis and also respects Iraq’s territorial integrity."
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