Kerry in Iraq for talks with Kurdish leaders

Updated: 2014-06-24 16:47


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Kerry in Iraq for talks with Kurdish leaders
US mulls airstrikes in Iraq, but no clear path forward 
BAGHDAD -- US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday arrived in Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to discuss the Iraqi crisis with the Kurdish leaders, official Iraqi television reported.

Kerry was received by the high-ranking officials of the regional presidency office at Arbil airport and is scheduled to meet with top regional officials, including the President of Kurdistan region Masoud Barzani and the Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani, the state-run Iraqiya channel said.

The visit came a day after the top US diplomat met with Iraqi leaders and high-ranking officials in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, during which he urged the country's Shiite-led government to reach out to the Sunni and Kudish communities and to "stand united" against the militant groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) which is seen by the Iraqi government and the Americans as a threat to Iraq, the region and the world.

Kerry confirmed the US support to Iraqi security forces which "will be intense and sustained, and if Iraq's leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together, it will be effective."

"It will allow Iraqi security forces to confront ISIL more effectively," he said.

Kerry's visit to the country is part of a tour in the Middle East to consult with US partners and allies on measures to support security, stability and the formation of an inclusive government in Iraq, as well as other developments in the region.

His visit to the country came amid worsening security conditions that began less than two weeks ago when armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by an al-Qaida splinter group ISIL, launched a surprise offensive that led to the debacle of Iraqi security forces and seizure of a large part of the country's northern and western territories.

The Iraqi Shiite-led government has urged US to raid the militants with air strikes, while the Obama administration so far only agreed on a plan of limited military support.

Later on, Kerry will travel to Brussels to participate in a NATO foreign ministers' meeting.