Iraqi leader calls for restraint in Middle East during Washington visit

April 16, 2024 3:39 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani called for restraint in the Middle East on Monday during talks in Washington as tensions soar between Iran and Israel after Tehran’s weekend strikes.

“We encourage all the efforts of stopping the expansion of the area of conflict, especially the latest development,” Sudani said at the White House at the start of a meeting with President Joe Biden.

The meetings come as U.S. ally Israel weighs its response to Iran’s missile and drone attack, with the United States and Europe urging restraint.

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Iraq is a rare ally of both Washington and Tehran. Iraqi airspace was a main route for Iran’s unprecedented drone and ballistic missile attack on Israel, and Iraqi officials say Iran informed them, as well as other countries in the region, ahead of the attack.

Sudani is leading a delegation that met officials across Washington on Monday, including Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“In the spirit of partnership our views may be divergent about what’s happening in the region,” Sudani said through a translator as he sat next to Biden in the Oval Office.

“But we agree certainly about the international law, the international humanitarian law and the responsibility to protect and the law of war, and we reject any repression against the civilians, especially women and children, and we encourage the commitment about respecting international norms and diplomatic missions.”
Biden said Washington was committed to Israel’s security and to bringing an end to fighting in Gaza.

“We’re committed to a ceasefire that will bring the hostages home and preventing conflict from spreading beyond what it already has,” Biden said.

“The partnership between the United States and Iraq is critical,” he added, noting efforts against ISIS and the two nations’ critical strategic agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Tamim, who co-chaired a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee with U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Iraq was concerned about its region being “dragged into a wider war that will threaten international security and safety.”