President Barack Obama on Monday praised Iraqi President Fouad for naming a new prime minister, calling the move a “promising step.”
“The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government,” he said.
Massoum named former Maliki ally Haider al Abadi as the country’s next prime minister after the National Iraqi Alliance, the country’s largest Shiite political bloc, nominated him. But Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki remained in the capital’s International Zone while the coalition his political party belongs to nominated a rival to succeed him as head of the government.
Obama did not mention Maliki, but said Iraqi leaders needed to quickly form a new Cabinet that represents all Iraqis.
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In brief remarks from Martha’s Vineyard, where Obama is vacationing, the president pledged further support for Iraqis, but reiterated again that the U.S. role would be limited.
On Thursday, Obama ordered airstrikes and food and water drops to tens of thousands in northern Iraq.
Obama called U.S. efforts successful in destroying arms and equipment in Iraq through a series of targeted airstrikes, and said aircraft remain in position if they are needed.
He also said some of members of one of Iraq’s oldest minorities, stranded without food or water on a mountaintop where temperatures can reach 120 degrees, have begun to escape.
Obama thanked the United Kingdom, France and other nations for helping in the effort.
“These have been difficult days in Iraq...I am sure there will be difficult days ahead,” he said.
Obama departed Washington Saturday for Martha’s Vineyard, where he and his family will vacation for two weeks.
He will return to Washington Aug. 17 for two days and then return to Martha’s Vineyard for the next week. He will come back to Washington Aug. 24.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to say what was bringing Obama back to Washington, but said he would be at the White House meeting with staff.
He is attending a fundraising for Senate Democrats in Tisbury, Mass. later this afternoon.