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Kerry returns to Iraq Tuesday to meet with key leader



BY LARA JAKES
AP NATIONAL SECURITY WRITER

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) -- The top U.S. diplomat returned to Iraq on Tuesday for the second day in a row, again trying to convince one of its political leaders that overhaul of the Shiite-led government is the best way to deflate a raging Sunni insurgency that is pushing the country toward civil war.

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Irbil, the capital of Iraq's northern, autonomous Kurdish region, for talks with a key local leader who has feuded for years with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Kerry is hoping that support from Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani will force al-Maliki to cede more power to Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities and, in turn, soothe anger directed at Baghdad that has fueled the insurgent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Barzani's support is important because Kurds represent about 20 percent of Iraq's population and usually vote as a unified bloc. That has made Kurds kingmakers in Iraq's national political process.

Tensions have run deep for years between Barzani and al-Maliki, and recently surged again when the Kurdish regional government began exporting oil through Turkey without giving Baghdad a required share of the profits. The Kurdish region is home to several vast oil fields, which have reaped security and economic stability unmatched across the rest of the Iraq.

Kerry met several top Iraqi leaders in Baghdad on Monday, including al-Maliki, in what was later described as a tit-for-tat discussion of frustration and few compromises. Still, Kerry said all the leaders agreed to start the process of seating a new government by July 1, which will advance a constitutionally-required timetable for distributing power among Iraq's political blocs, which are divided by sect and ethnicity.

Once a stable government is in place, officials hope Iraqi security forces will be inspired to fight the insurgency instead of fleeing, as they did in several major cities and towns in Sunni-dominated areas since the start of the year.

U.S. special forces began arriving in Baghdad this week to train and advise Iraqi counterterror soldiers, under order from President Barack Obama, who is reluctantly sending American military might back to the war zone it left in 2011 after more than eight years of fighting. Al-Maliki has for months requested U.S military help to quell ISIL, and the Obama administration has said it must respond to the insurgent threat before it spreads beyond Iraq's borders and puts the West at risk of attack.

On Monday, Kerry said the U.S. is prepared to strike the militants even if Baghdad delays political reforms.

---

Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter atHTTPS://TWITTER.COM/LARAJAKESAP

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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joe.bagofdonuts June 24 2014 at 6:13 AM

Is it Just me, or does John Kerry look Like a Zombie out of the Walking Dead ?

Flag Reply +14 rate up
4 replies
taurus7125 June 24 2014 at 5:50 AM

Keep Kerry in Iraq, he is a useless piece of **** like his boss bobo

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
ualfriend taurus7125 June 24 2014 at 11:42 AM

he don't work for bush

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
coopdabomb ualfriend June 24 2014 at 12:55 PM

Funny, osama obama has the lowest approval ratings of any president in history

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Mark June 24 2014 at 5:04 AM

SO WHY DID HE HAVE TO LEAVE AND THEN GO BACK ? THATS RIGHT, HE HAD TO WASTE MORE AMERICAN DOLLARS AND MAKE THE IRAQI'S MORE AMERICAN FOR OUR MUSLIM BROTHER IN THE WHITEHOUSE !! WHY DON'T WE JUST LEAVE THAT COUNTRY AND THEN LET THEM FIGURE OUT THEIR OWN PROBLEMS AND IF THEY WANT TO KILL EACH OTHER OFF, THEN LET THEM..... I HOPE ELECTION DAY ARRIVES VERY QUICKLY SO WE CAN GET RID OF SOME DEMONCRAPS, AND REPUKIANS AND POSSIBLY REPLACE THEM WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE SOME BRAINS, ARE IN TOUCH WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, AND CAN ABOLISH THE SOCIALIST AGENDAS IN CONGRESS.... WE AS A PEOPLE NEED TO VOTE FOR THE AMERICAN, INDEPENDENT, LIBERTARIAN, OR THE PEACE AND FREEDOM PARTIES IF WE TRULY WANT SOM CHANGES FOR THE BETTER AND NOT KEEP ON DENYING OUR OWN PEOPLE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND STOP ALL OF OUR MONEY GOING OVERSEAS TO HELP THE MUSLIMS AND TO KEEP OUR MONEY HERE AND HELP OURSELVES FOR A BIG CHANGE..
ALL FOREIGN AID SHOULD STOP UNTIL THE DEBT IS PAID OFF COMPLETELY !!!!

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6 replies
rlightb240 June 24 2014 at 7:18 AM

Please stay there

Flag Reply +5 rate up
chrlbrw1122 June 24 2014 at 11:12 AM

He is as useless as his retard boss, Bozo..

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1 reply
sam54ct chrlbrw1122 June 24 2014 at 4:29 PM

Yeah, too bad its the last guy who signed the "SOSA" Peace Accord in with Iraq in 2007, mandating full pullout of all troops by 2011.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Bill June 24 2014 at 9:57 AM

Kerry went back with a "blank" check from the taxpayer's bank...to pay off to extortion from the Iraqi government...a brilliant foreign policy move! A felony at best!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
MARTHA & PERRY June 24 2014 at 8:38 AM

returned to Iraq? he couldn't spend the night and save the taxpayers the cost of flying him to a five star resort. typical out of touch govt. worker.

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thuff31564 June 24 2014 at 8:36 AM

Kerry, another day another dignitary's hand to shake and look important but most of another lunch. Taxpayers ought to be asking what this worthless trip is costing them with all the security and private planes, cars, etc? A video conference would have done just as well.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
dwtomczyk June 24 2014 at 8:02 AM

what makes kerry think he can do in two visits what others could not in over 1000 years

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
b4score dwtomczyk June 24 2014 at 9:39 AM

Because he was a swift boat commander. LOL

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rcalley1 June 24 2014 at 9:46 AM

Yet another Obama lacky with absolutely no idea of what to do.
It is the responsibility of the powerful to help police the World from Tyrants.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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