ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – US Vice-President Mike Pence, in a phone call on Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, highlighted the part played by Iraq in eliminating the Islamic State (IS) and the need to protect religious minorities victimized by them.
The two leaders discussed progress on certifying the results of the contested May 12 election and efforts to form a new government that would be representative of all citizens in Iraq, according to the White House’s account of the call.
Pence expressed gratitude for Iraq’s cooperation with the US-led coalition to defeat IS, and noted that “more security and economic improvements in Iraq were necessary to capitalize on ISIS’ [IS] defeat.”
“The Vice President and Prime Minister Abadi also conveyed their shared commitment to protecting victims of religious persecution at the hands of ISIS and discussed USAID Administrator Mark Green’s upcoming visit to Iraq in support of this effort.”
Iraqi forces with the support the US-led coalition fought the jihadist group after it took over large swaths of territory in the country in June 2014.
Despite Iraq’s victory over IS, announced in December 2017, the jihadist group continues to carry out insurgent attacks, bombings, ambushes, and kidnappings, mainly in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salahaddin.
Religious minorities such as Yezidis (Ezidis), Christians, and Kakais are some of the main victims of the IS emergence and tens of thousands of them remain displaced from their homes.
During the phone conversation, said a statement from Abadi's office, Pence pledged that “his country would continue to support Iraq in the construction and reconstruction phase, as well as the efforts of the Iraqi government to return displaced persons and minorities to their regions."
It went on to say that the Prime Minister told Pence that Iraq's priorities are to maintain achievements in the area of security, promotion, economic reform, services, construction, reconstruction, and job creation.
Editing by John J. Catherine