US President Donald Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Photos: Governments of the US and Iraq
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi held a phone call with US President Donald Trump on Sunday in which the two leaders discussed the fight against ISIS, the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections, and the suspected chemical attacks
“Both praised the victories over Daesh [ISIS] terrorist gangs and the liberation of all of Iraqi soil, achieved by the determination of the heroic Iraqi forces and with the help and supporting of the International Coalition led by the United States,” a statement from the Iraqi prime minister’s office said.
Abadi declared victory over ISIS in Iraq in December 2017. However, sporadic ISIS attacks
against Iraqi forces, Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries and oil facilities, particularly in the Kirkuk province, have continued.
Although the US has confirmed it is withdrawing
up to 60 percent of its troops stationed in Iraq, Washington insists counter-terrorism cooperation will continue.
“Both also discussed the conditions of the region and the developments in Syria’s situation, and they emphasized the importance of ending the remnants of the terrorist Daesh gangs to prevent its spread again,” the statement added.
Abadi told the US leader that Iraq has a vision of regional cooperation and coordination. He said Iraq hopes to balanced relations with all of its neighbors in a way that can strengthen the security and stability of the region and the world, the statement added.
The call comes as tensions between the Trump administration and Tehran remain high, casting doubts on the 2015 nuclear deal brokered between Iran and world powers. Baghdad has sought to balance its relationship with both its eastern neighbor and its American ally.
“The two also emphasized the importance of the success of the upcoming elections to complete the building and construction phase,” the statement added.
The White House issued its own statement on Sunday, in which President Trump also highlighted the importance of Iraqi unity in advance of Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary elections.
According to a White House readout, the Iraqi PM thanked Trump for America’s support in the fight against ISIS and called for continued cooperation.
“Prime Minister Abadi thanked President Trump for the decisive support of the United States in the fight against ISIS. The leaders also discussed accelerating the campaign to defeat remnants of ISIS and the need to work together to counter other threats in the region,” the White House statement read.
“They discussed the situation in Syria and the alarming reports of possible chemical attacks near Damascus.
World leaders have condemned a suspected chemical weapons attack on rebel-held Douma near Damascus on Saturday night in which 70 civilians are thought to have died. The US President has accused the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad of being behind the attack. Damascus and its Russian and Iranian allies deny responsibility.