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Kerry backs Iraq against 'existential' militant threat

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (R) and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet at the Prime Minister's Office in Baghdad on June 23, 2014US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday pledged “intense” support for Iraq against the “existential threat” of a major militant offensive pushing toward Baghdad from the north and west. Kerry’s surprise visit came as Sunni insurgents led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) made major advances in a strategic town and along the country’s border with Syria. The assault has not only put Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki under pressure, but also displaced hundreds of thousands and threatened to tear the country apart. Washington’s “support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq’s leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together, it will be effective,” Kerry said at the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone.

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