BAGHDAD, June 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Tuesday in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, with Kurdish leaders.
Speaking to the BBC in Erbil, Kerry noted that "the Kurds have been very key to helping to draw a line against ISIL. They're cooperating in the security arrangement, and I think it's very, very important to touch all of the bases. And because of some of the internal politics of Iraq right now, it was important for me to come here and I'm glad I did. The Kurd participation in the governing formation process is very, very important."
Before his meeting with Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani, Kerry commended the Kurds for their "critical" role in combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS -- also referred to as ISIL).
"In recent days, the security cooperation between the forces here in the Kurdish area have been really critical to helping draw a line with respect to ISIL and also to provide some support to the Iraqi security forces. I thank President Barzani and other Kurdish leaders for their responsible effort in that regard."
The U.S. is urging Iraq to pursue a two-track approach to the crisis, militarily and politically: fight ISIS and form an inclusive new government in line with Iraq's constitutional mandates.
Barzani, Kerry said Tuesday, told him "he is going to participate in the government formation process. He is committed to trying to help yet again to find a means of having a unity government that can bring people together and deal with the dual crisis of the political dissension and division within Iraq and the security challenges that is posed by ISIL."