News

    Gates Meets with Talabani in Baghdad

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates flew to Baghdad, after a 48-hour visit to Afghanistan, to press Iraqi leaders to resolve their differences over the status of the Kurdish region and Kirkuk. His plan to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was thwarted by a parliamentary uproar over a series of deadly bombings.

    A handout picture from the Iraqi Presidency shows Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (R) meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Baghdad, 10 Dec 2009
    A handout picture from the Iraqi Presidency shows Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (R) meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Baghdad, 10 Dec 2009

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Al Pessin

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates flew to Baghdad, after a 48-hour visit to Afghanistan, to press Iraqi leaders to resolve their differences over the status of the autonomous Kurdish region and the disputed city of Kirkuk.   But his plan to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was thwarted by a parliamentary uproar over a series deadly bombings on Tuesday.

    Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says the cancellation was not a snub, but was caused by the prime minister's obligation to parliament.  A U.S. official says Prime Minister Maliki was summoned to defend his security policies in the wake of the multiple attacks, which have been claimed by al-Qaida in Iraq.

    Secretary Gates did meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and other members of the presidency council, as planned. 

    Morrell says Gates gave his condolences on the bombings, and offered any needed U.S. help to investigate them and to improve security. 

    U.S. officials, including the number-two American commander here, Army Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby, say such occasional spectacular attacks are, in a way, evidence of the decline of al-Qaida in Iraq, which once staged dozens of attacks every day.

    "These are terrorist attacks," said Lieutenant Jacoby.  "This is not a civil war, period.  It is not the blooming insurgency period.  These are greatly reduced terrorist cells.  They have been reduced to hiding in the shadows, planning for weeks and weeks and weeks to conduct attacks like this.  And, as I said, it would be tough for any government, any country, to prevent these kinds of attacks."

    The last two major attacks in Iraq were in August and October.  General Jacoby says Iraqi security forces are improving every day, and took action in three of the four attacks on Tuesday that prevented them from being worse. 

    U.S. Defense Department press spokesman Geoff Morrell says Secretary Gates also met with the presidency council about the reduced capability of al-Qaida, and praised Iraqi leaders for preventing the attacks from rekindling ethnic strife. 

    Now that the presidency council and the parliament have approved an election law, Secretary Gates wants to talk to the prime minister and to Kurdish leaders about resolving broader differences over power sharing and internal borders. 

    U.S. officials say they are in a better position to mediate and press for the resolution of difficult issues, and to ease tensions between the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia, while the United States has a sizable military force in Iraq.

    That force is scheduled to be reduced from nearly 120,000 to 50,000 by next October, with the bulk of the withdrawal planned for after the election and the formation of a new Iraqi government.  U.S. officials say the postponement of the election from January to March 7 should not affect the October target.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora