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Iraqi prime minister jokes with Trump about wiretaps
21 March 2017, 10:16 | Terri Saunders
Donald Trump to host Iraq PM Abadi at White House today
Trump said he also would address what he described as a "vacuum" that was created when so-called Islamic State (IS) militants took over large swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq.
After reporters shouted questions about wiretaps, Abadi grabbed Trump's arm and said, "We had nothing to do with the wiretap". The US official said Trump asked Tillerson to get greater clarity on vetting measures in Iraq. "Maybe someday we'll be able to figure it out".
"We are in the last chapter, the final stages to eliminate ISIS militarily in Iraq", he said in a video statement.
"I thank you for removing Iraq from the presidential order. this was a positive response to the Iraqi request that betters the relationship with Iraq and the value of Iraq as far as Iraqi-American relations", Abadi told Trump.
Abadi's remarks followed his first face-to-face meeting at the White House with Trump, who took office on January 20 pledging a new strategy to defeat the hardline militant group that seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
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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.
Al-Abadi arrived in Washington having already won one concession from the Trump administration.
In many ways, his visit comes at a high point for him after successfully appealing to Trump to remove Iraq from a list of countries included in a revamped travel ban. Both the initial January 27 travel ban and the revised version have been blocked by federal courts.
In Trump's call with Abadi, the president vowed to seek a resolution to his counterpart's concerns about his citizens being unable to enter the United States, according to a readout of the phone call from Baghdad.
Speaking in Arabic, the Iraqi Prime Minister emphasised the fact that Iraq is on the forefront of fighting ISIS.
Since then, Iraq's military has seen significant military victories, with the help of an global coalition that has been assisting with airstrikes and weapons as well as a robust advise and assist operation. There, the U.S.is shifting from working quietly behind the scenes on Syria's toxic battlefield, turning instead toward overt displays of US force in an attempt to shape the fight ahead of efforts to recapture the Islamic State's de facto capital, Raqqa.
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