US vows to aid Iraq in curbing violence

US vows to aid Iraq in curbing violence

US vows to aid Iraq in curbing violence

US Vice President Joseph Biden (L) welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to the Naval Observatory in Washington. AFP photo

The United States vowed Oct. 30 to help Iraq combat militant groups as mounting attacks claimed more lives ahead of talks between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Barack Obama.

Al-Maliki’s visit to Washington comes as his country is wracked by the worst unrest since 2008, and just a few weeks before the two-year anniversary of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

Lawmakers skeptical

“Vice President Biden reiterated the U.S. commitment to equip Iraqis to fight al-Qaeda, and Prime Minister al-Maliki made clear that he views the United States as Iraq’s security partner of choice,” the White House said in a statement. U.S. also descrbed the talks “friendly” and “constructive,” according to Agence France - Presse. U.S. lawmakers however had tough criticism for Iraq’s government after meeting with al-Maliki on the same day, saying they were open to meeting his request for military assistance only if Baghdad made significant changes.

U.S. officials, particularly members of Congress who take a harder line on many foreign policy issues than the Obama administration, have watched in dismay as al-Maliki has ignored Washington’s calls to give Sunnis and Kurds a greater role in his Shiite-led government, and moved closer to Iran since U.S. troops left Iraq two years ago. Unrest in Iraq has reached a level unseen since 2008 and killed more than 5,400 people this year, with Iraqi authorities so far failing to curb daily attacks.