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Obama affirms support for Haider al-Abadi as Iraq’s next prime minister


President Obama (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

CHILMARK, Mass. - President Obama said Monday that he urged Haider al-Abadi, the man tapped by Iraq's president to be that country's next prime minster, to swiftly form a new cabinet and move toward firming up plans for a new and more inclusive government.

Obama said he and Vice President Biden both spoke with Abidi earlier in the day.

"I pledged our support to him," Obama said. Obama said the new leadership has a "difficult task"  and must regain the trust of its people. Obama said the United States "stands ready to support" a government that addresses the needs of all Iraqi people.

Iraqi President Fouad Massoum on Monday tapped Abadi, the deputy speaker of parliament, to be the new prime minister amid calls to replace Nouri al-Maliki, whom many have blamed for fueling the unrest in Iraq. But Maliki and his allies remained defiant. They pledged to stand their ground, even as U.S. officials have warned against the idea.

The United States launched airstrikes in northern Iraq last Friday against Sunni extremist militants who have been fighting for power in key parts of the country in recent months. Obama said the strikes were "successfully conducted." Meanwhile, the CIA is providing weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the Sunni militants.

​Obama said the airstrikes were conducted to "prevent terrorist forces from advancing on the city of Irbil." Obama said humanitarian efforts have continued to members of a minority sect trapped on a mountain and that a USAID disaster response team is now involved in the mission.
U.S. aircraft remain "positioned to strike terrorist forces" that threaten the safety of thousands of people who have taken refuge on a mountain, the president said.

Obama reiterated that there is no American military solution to the problem and that Iraq must form an inclusive government. Monday's developments are a "promising step forward" in what he called a "critical effort," he said.

Obama made the short statement while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where he called leaders including Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, hit the beach and attended a fundraiser.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Post.

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