USA

Trump to host Iraq PM at White House


Washington, Mar 20 (IANS): US President Donald Trump will host Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House on Monday.

As he left Iraq for the US on Sunday, Abadi said Iraqi forces were close to ridding the country of the Islamic State (IS) and that he would talk to the US administration about the final steps needed, CNN reported.

"We are in the last chapter, the final stages to eliminate IS militarily in Iraq," he said in a video statement.

Abadi said he hoped the US and other allies would continue to offer economic assistance to Iraq, which he said faced a financial crisis as a result of the war against the militant group.

Trump last week announced a $54 billion increase in US defence spending.

If approved by the Congress, over $3 billion of the additional money would be allocated to the fight against the IS, including $2 billion for a flexible fund that would allow the Pentagon to decide how to utilise resources in support of the new counter-IS strategy.

Iraq was removed from the revised version of Trump's travel ban order, following intensive lobbying from Baghdad at the highest levels, a senior US official told CNN.

The pressure from the Iraq officials included a phone call between Trump and Abadi on February 10 and an in-person conversation between Abadi and Vice President Mike Pence in Munich, Germany, on February 18.

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