Iraq will not be a stage for conflict, President Barham Salih says

Iraqi president discussed security and threat from ISIS in talks with British officials

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May shakes hands with Iraq’s President Barham Salih in London on Tuesday. Reuters
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May shakes hands with Iraq’s President Barham Salih in London on Tuesday. Reuters

Iraq will not be a zone of proxy conflicts, President Barham Salih said on Wednesday during a visit to the United Kingdom.

Tensions in the region are escalating after attacks on shipping in the Sea of Oman and the shooting down of a US surveillance drone by Iran amid a standoff between Washington and Tehran.

“Iraq will not be used a staging post for any belligerents,” Mr Salih said in a speech in London’s Chatham House think tank.

The Iraqi leader said the US-Iran tensions were a “danger” for the country. “We do not want to be embroiled in another war on our territory,” he said, adding that the war against terror is not over.

“We need the neighbourhood to come together to consolidate success of territorial defeat of ISIS,” the Iraqi leader stressed.

Mr Salih began his three-day visit to London on Tuesday where he met with Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt.

The Iraqi leader discussed security ties Mrs May in a meeting after his arrival.

Mrs May reaffirmed her government’s stance of “supporting the Iraqi government in building a stable and successful nation”, a Downing Street spokesman said.

The ministers “acknowledged the ongoing threat posed by Daesh”, the spokesman said, adding that Ms May stressed the UK’s readiness to provide further support to the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga.

They also agreed on the importance of international co-operation in the de-escalation of current tensions, the spokesman said.

Mr Salih acknowledged the vital role that Britain played in the fight against terrorism in the region by training and equipping Iraqi security forces.

“The president stressed that the UK must continue to contribute significantly to the country’s reconstruction progress, especially in the liberated areas,” Mr Salih’s media office said.

Prior to his visit, Mr Hunt said the United Kingdom remains committed to working with Iraq on security, defence and trade.

“Our two countries share many mutual interests, including ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh and de-escalating regional tensions,” Mr Hunt said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

“This is an important time for Iraq as it recovers from years of conflict and strengthens its relationships both regionally and internationally,” Mr Hunt said, adding that the UK will reaffirm its close and historic relations with Iraq this week.

Mr Salih is expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II during the visit. He is accompanied by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Al Hakim and Health Minister Aladin Alwan.

Mr Salih’s programme includes a dinner at Lancaster House hosted by the secretaries of state for international development and international trade and engagements, the British Foreign Ministry said.

Iraq is still suffering the effects of the battle against ISIS. The country is also dealing with an infrastructure crisis, corruption and wasteful spending that prompted months of protests last summer that are expected to flare up again.

Demonstrators demanded action to fix the stagnant economy and provide jobs.

Updated: June 27, 2019 04:07 AM


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