Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday after talks with President Donald Trump that the new US administration appears more focused on the fight against terrorism than its predecessor.
Abadi met Trump at the White House on the 14th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and two days before a major Washington ministerial meeting on the way ahead in the war against ISIS.
Afterward, Abadi said he expected US assistance to the Iraqi forces fighting to drive ISIS fighters from the northern city of Mosul to “accelerate” under Trump more quickly than would have happened under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
“I think this administration wants to be more engaged in fighting terrorism. I sense a difference in terms of being head-to-head with terrorism,” Abadi told an audience at the United States Institute for Peace.
Earlier, Trump said the operation against the ISIS group in Mosul was “moving along” and he questioned whether the United States under Obama should have pulled US combat troops out of the country.
“We should never, ever have left,” he said. Previously Trump had supported the 2009 withdrawal, and he ran for office last year arguing that the United States should never have invaded Iraq in the first place.
“We will figure something out. I mean we have to get rid of ISIS,” he said, “we’re going to get rid of ISIS.”
The Iraqi authorities launched an offensive in October to retake Mosul from the ISIS group with the support of US-led coalition air strikes.
Government forces retook the eastern part of Mosul in January before setting their sights on the more densely populated west of the city, the last major urban center the ISIS group holds in Iraq.
Trump shied away from any substantive discussion in public, but the presence of his top economic aide at a meeting in the cabinet office indicated that energy and economic ties were also on the agenda.
Meanwhile, amid the combat against ISIS, Iraq’s government has been going through a partial reshuffle. The Iraqi prime minister said he has a series of urgent reforms his government is seeking to achieve, primarily confronting corruption, making Iraq a democratic country, and removing obstacles to the return of displaced people to their homes.
His Government has been working on judicial reforms to prosecute those involved in terrorism and to pursue those involved in terrorist activities.