Politics tied to Iraqi security strategy, U.S. says

Jan. 9, 2014 at 12:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told his Iraqi counterpart an inclusive political climate was an essential part of fighting terrorism, a spokeswoman said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Sunni tribes in restive Anbar province to work with members of the local community to take on al-Qaida. Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a group affiliated with al-Qaida, took control of security checkpoints and other facilities in Fallujah last week.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry spoke by phone with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to discuss the conflict. Kerry said there was a critical need for an Iraqi solution to the problem.

U.S. lawmakers favored sending military equipment to Iraq but Kerry said there would be no U.S. boots on the ground.

"[The secretary] also emphasized the opportunity for the government of Iraq to focus on political initiatives to increase political inclusiveness as an essential component of the counter-terrorism campaign as the only path to long-term stability," his spokeswoman said during a Wednesday press briefing.

Anbar protesters have complained Maliki, a Shiite, is marginalizing members of the Sunni population in Iraq.

National elections are scheduled for April in Iraq.

U.S. military forces fought off Fallujah militants twice during their campaign in Iraq, which lasted from 2003 to 2011.

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