At a joint press conference on Thursday morning, US secretary of state John Kerry confirmed that the agenda for his meetings Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari and the other members of the high-level Iraqi delegation would include the terrorist threat from Al-Qaeda, the crises in Egypt and Syria, weapons smuggling between Iraq and Syria, the internal situation in Iraq, and intervention by Iran and Hezbollah in Iraqi affairs.
In remarks to the press before the meeting, Kerry said: “We agreed that we cannot allow them [Iran and Hezbollah] to play on the sectarian divides that recruit young Iraqis to go fight in a foreign war, the same way that we cannot allow al-Qaida and other extremists to recruit young men from Iraq and elsewhere to join into their twisted version of jihad. So we are committed to helping Iraq to withstand these pressures and to bolster the moderate forces throughout the region.”
The US secretary of state stressed his country’s commitment to helping Iraq and said that the US “welcome[s] the steps that have been taken by the Iraqis to build a strong, democratic, and inclusive state.”
At the same press conference, Zebari said: “We have together endured many challenges together . . . and our mutual relationship have continued engagement of the United States. We’ve always emphasized the importance, the significance, of continued U.S. engagement, which is critical for the success of Iraq and the Iraqi people on our ongoing transformation to a stable, inclusive, democratic, and prosperous country in the heart of the Middle East.
He also denied that Iraq will provide any financial or military support for the conflicting parties in Syria.
Zebari arrived in the US capital heading a high-level delegation on Tuesday evening to chair the fourth meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee on political and diplomatic relations, a part of the US–Iraqi Strategic Framework Agreement.
Zebari also met with other US officials and researchers in local research centers.
During the visit, Iraq reportedly asked the White House for help in persuading the US Congress to overcome its objections to the sale of sophisticated Apache helicopters to Iraq for use in anti-terrorist operations in Iraqi territory.
The Daily Beast, a US online news outlet, said the US government informed Congress of the sale of military equipment to Iraq worth USD 4.7 billion. However, both the House and Senate Foreign Affairs Committees refused to authorize the sale of Apache helicopters.
The news outlet quoted a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesman who said that the committee is reviewing the proposed arms sale to Iraq in order to make sure it will help establish security in the country, adding that the State Department is currently working with the leaders of the committees to dispel fears that Iraq will use the Apache helicopters against internal enemies instead of terrorists.