BAGHDAD, April 25 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton downplayed recent sectarian suicide bombings in Iraq Saturday, saying the country must unite to build security.
Speaking to a group of about 120 Iraqi students, journalists and activists at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Clinton reassured them that U.S. support for the country will continue even as Baghdad reeled from the violence, which accentuated how much Iraq still relies on Washington for security, The New York Times reported.
But she warned that although Iraqis will continue to get U.S. help, they must unite and work together to make their own advances in establishing security.
"The more united Iraq is, the more you will trust the security services," Clinton reportedly told a young Iraqi journalist. "The security services have to earn your trust, but the people have to demand it."
Clinton said earlier she didn't believe this week's wave of suicide bombings, which killed an estimated 160 people and wounded hundreds of others, signaled a return to the relentless sectarian violence of 2006, but she nonetheless discussed them with Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the newspaper said.
"In Iraq, there will always be political conflicts," she told reporters in Kuwait Friday evening before her visit to Baghdad. "But I really believe that Iraq, as a whole, is on the right track," she said, blaming the violence on "rejectionists" who fear a successful Iraqi state.
Clinton arrived in Baghdad Saturday on a C-17 military transport plane. She was greeted on the tarmac by the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill; U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the Times said.