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In Cairo, Kerry Says U.S. Is Not Responsible For Iraq's Current Crisis

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before a meeting at the Presidential Palace on Sunday in Cairo.
Brendan Smialowski
AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before a meeting at the Presidential Palace on Sunday in Cairo.
(This post was last updated at 12:52 p.m. ET. to include Kerry's comments.)

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Sunday and met with the country's newest president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

NPR's Jackie Northam, who is traveling with Kerry, reports officials said Kerry would address the government's heavy-handed tactics against political opponents, mass trials and death sentences, as well as broader security questions.

A lot of the focus of the trip, however, was on Iraq.

In a press conference following his meeting with el-Sissi, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is not responsible for what is happening in Iraq today.

"What is happening in Iraq is not happening because of the United States in terms of the current crisis," Kerry said. "The United States shed blood and worked hard for years to provide Iraqis the opportunity to have their own governments."

Kerry said the U.S. would like the Iraqi people to "find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq, that is prepared to be inclusive and share power in a way that will maximize the ability of Iraq to focus on the real danger at this moment from an external source which is [ISIS]."

Kerry added that the United States, however, will not dictate who Iraq's next leader should be.

"That is up to the Iraqi people," Kerry said.

Quoting unnamed U.S. officials, The New York Times reports that part of this trip will be focused on prodding Arab states to "use their influence with Iraqi politicians and prod them to quickly form an inclusive government." Kerry will also encourage them to stop funding Sunni militants that are part of the Islamic States in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Times adds:

"The group is largely self-sustaining because of success in extortion and its plundering of banks in Mosul, Iraq. But some funding 'has flowed into Iraq from its neighbors,' said a senior official on Mr. Kerry's plane.

" 'That does not mean that it's the result of an official government policy in many, if not most, cases,' the official added. 'But it does mean that some of these governments can do more to stop some of that facilitation.' "

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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