On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met in the Oval Office. Both leaders expressed their commitment to a robust relationship between the two countries, emphasizing priorities for continued cooperation. Several of these priorities reflect the progress that Haider al-Abadi has made in improving governance in his first eight months as prime minister, as we noted in our recent post: The Promise of Reform.
For his part, Obama focused on improvements in governance, praising Abadi’s “commitment to an inclusive government where Shia, Sunni and Kurds and all the peoples of Iraq are unified around that nation’s sovereignty and its ability to control its own destiny”:
- Devolution to regional and local levels of government, especially in aspects of security and providing services;
- Outreach to regional governments, including Iran, provided that assistance goes through the Iraqi central government and not through outside groups.
Abadi stressed his government’s own desire to “bring all fighters under the control of the state and under the command of the commander of the armed forces”:
- Rejection of intervention by outside groups;
- Zero-tolerance policy on human rights violations.
In addition, both leaders emphasized the significance of continued economic cooperation between the two countries:
- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will be leading “a Higher Coordinating Committee meeting of the Strategic Framework Agreement to focus specifically on economic issues, including bilateral trade, energy cooperation, private sector reform, and Iraq’s fiscal stability”.
More substantively, President Obama announced that the U.S. would provide an additional $205 million in humanitarian assistance, on top of the $407 million that has been provided since 2014.