Iraqi PM wants Turkey to pull out troops

AP News
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Posted: Jan 22, 2016 10:23 AM
Iraqi PM wants Turkey to pull out troops

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Iraq's prime minister appealed Friday to Turkey to pull its troops out of Iraqi territory and instead provide training and equipment to fight the Islamic State group, which he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted is losing ground.

Leaders at the World Economic Forum are focusing Friday on concerns about global security, with Syria's civil war and other geopolitical troubles weighing on an already wobbly global economy.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other officials at the forum in Davos, Switzerland, trying to drum up additional support for the anti-Islamic State military campaign.

Abadi met with several officials in Davos, calling for more help.

"We in Iraq want very good neighborly relations with Turkey, we hope Turkey will help us to fight Daesh," Abadi said, using another name for the radical group. "Daesh is killing our own citizens, occupying our own cities. We have 4 million internal refugees because of that, and Turkey should help us with that. And I appeal to the Turkish government to help us, and withdraw their forces."

He said Ankara hasn't responded to his government's question about why Turkish troops are in Iraq, adding: "We have to have an answer."

Turkey has had troops near the IS-controlled city of Mosul in northern Iraq since 2014. The arrival of additional troops last month sparked an uproar, and Ankara subsequently halted new deployments.

Turkey has not been clear about the exact number of troops it has deployed in Iraq, but the issue was one of several that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in Istanbul on Friday, was expected to bring up in Saturday meetings with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"I don't know what their aim is. Is it an expansionist plot to control part of Ninevah?" Abadi said, referring to Mosul's region. "I hope not. ... If they truly want to fight against Daesh, well, they can train our forces. We have asked them to do that. They can supply us with equipment and weapons. We have asked for that. They didn't send it."

He said IS is "on the retreat."

Kerry made similar comments in a Davos speech moments later.

"Each day, we learn more about what works and each day, we are intensifying the pressure on Daesh. We've known from the moment we formed our international coalition that success would take years," he said. "But in the end, mark my words, Daesh will be defeated — and the progress we have already made toward that end is undeniable."

The U.S. military has said the group has lost ground, yet it still holds key power centers in both Iraq and Syria — and put up a major fight for the city of Ramadi, which Iraqi forces are still trying to clear.

Carter, at his meeting with Abadi in Davos, emphasized the need for training local police forces, according to Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook. Carter pledged the United States would intensify the fight against IS, and noted tough fighting ahead despite the success of Iraqi forces in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met Friday with Abadi to discuss NATO plans to start training Iraqi officers in the coming weeks, likely in neighboring Jordan. That would mark the first time that the Atlantic alliance has carried out such a training mission for Iraq since the end of another training mission there in 2011, said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

Leaders meeting at Davos are also looking at how to deal with the refugee crisis prompted by Syria's civil war.

Kerry said the Obama administration will seek a major boost in funding for refugee support this year and press for at least 10 new countries to offer resettlement programs.

The European Union's top foreign policy official says trade and business would suffer if its member countries start putting up walls between each other that restrict borderless travel. Federica Mogherini said that if you add "the cost of the fragmentation of the European Union" to Europe's economic difficulties "then we really risk something much bigger than the protection of the welcoming of refugees."

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Lolita Baldor, Matthew Lee and Pan Pylas in Davos contributed to this report.