President Obama meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki | News | DW | 02.11.2013
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President Obama meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

US President Barack Obama has met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Washington. Both camps have agreed Iraqi forces are in need of "urgent" additional equipment to fight a resurgent al Qaeda.

President Obama and Iraq's Prime Minister al-Maliki met on Friday in Washington and discussed the need to push back a resurgent al Qaeda in Iraq that has spiked violence to levels not seen since 2008.

"Both sides emphasized - on an urgent basis - the need for additional equipment for Iraqi forces to conduct ongoing operations in remote areas where terrorist camps are located," a joint statement announced, though it did not detail what equipment Washington might provide in the future.

al-Maliki had previously indicated that Iraq was interested in purchasing US Apache helicopters to help end the sectarian violence in the country. However, his requests have been met with opposition from some US lawmakers.

On Thursday, a group of influential US senators took a hard line against al-Maliki, saying his mismanagement of Iraqi politics was contributing to the surge of violence.

A total of 979 people were killed in October in Iraq, the same number of dead in attacks in September, according to UN estimates released Friday.

Al-Maliki has been widely criticized for failing to give Iraq's Sunnis, Kurds and other minorities a greater role in the country's central government.

Looking toward the election

President Obama focused most of his remarks in the meeting on the need for Iraq to take more steps toward an inclusive democracy, citing elections next year.

"Throughout this discussion, the main theme was that the United States wants to be a strong and effective partner with Iraq, and we are deeply invested in seeing an Iraq that is inclusive, that is democratic and that is prosperous," he said.

Al-Maliki said the government is committed to holding the elections on time.

Obama and al-Maliki also discussed the conflict in neighboring Syria, the Iranian nuclear program and Iraqi oil production.

hc/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)