Kerry in talks with key Kurdish leader Barzani

June 24, 2014 12:24 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 04:21 am IST - IRBIL, Iraq

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry 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 government is the best way to deflate a raging insurgency that is pushing the country toward civil war.

Mr. 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.

Mr. Kerry is hoping that support from Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani will force Mr. al-Maliki to cede more power to Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities and, in turn, soothe anger directed at Baghdad that has fuelled the insurgent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Mr. Kerry met several top Iraqi leaders in Baghdad on Monday, including Mr. al-Maliki, in what was later described as a tit-for-tat discussion of frustration and few compromises. Still, Mr. 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 counter-terror soldiers, under order from President Barack Obama.

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