US announces new aid to Iraq, but warns that ‘armed groups’ must be controlled

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The United States Wednesday announced more than $200 million in additional humanitarian aid to Iraq but called for “armed groups” to be replaced by local police.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the additional aid announcement as he met his Iraqi counterpart in Washington, DC.

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Nearly $204 million in additional humanitarian assistance for “the people of Iraq, Iraqi refugees in the region, and to generous communities hosting them” will be given.

Pompeo welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s call for early parliamentary elections next year.

Kadhimi, last month, proposed early elections following monthslong protests by the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi premier is set to meet US President Donald Trump this week and will be the first Iraqi PM to visit the White House in three years. Washington did not extend any invites to Kadhimi’s predecessor, who was seen as close to Iran.

On Wednesday, Pompeo warned Iraqi that it needed to get armed groups under control.

“Armed groups not under the full control of the prime minister have impeded our progress. Those groups need to be replaced by local police as soon as possible,” Pompeo said at a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart.

The top US diplomat said the pair discussed ways Washington could “help preserve Iraq’s rich cultural heritage and religious diversity, and support education in Iraq as well.”

For his part, Iraqi FM Fuad Hussein said Baghdad saw the US an ally, “and a strong ally for Iraq. And we will continue to protect this alliance and to deepen it and expand it.”

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