(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) US President Barack Obama is meeting with members of the Congressional leadership as part of his ongoing consultations on foreign policy issues, including the situation in Iraq, the White House announced Wednesday.
When it comes to the options, the President made clear that he "has ruled out only sending US troops back into combat in Iraq," White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
"Ultimately, the solution that is needed is an Iraqi one, and any U.S. action, including any possible military action, would be in support of a strategy to build the capacity of the Iraqis to effectively, sustainably counter the threat posed by extremists," Carney said.
"We have been clear about the elements that we are reviewing: first, how to most effectively deal with the urgent and imminent threat from ISIL; how to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to fight this threat in both the short and long term; and how to encourage Iraq's leaders to put aside their differences and facilitate nonsectarian cooperative governance," he stressed.
He noted that Iraq "needs help to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraq's security forces, but there is no military solution that will sustainably solve Iraq's problems." "Any consideration of military action must be informed by the situation on the ground and the objectives to be obtained, as well as the consequences of its use," he added. "The ultimate objective here is to protect the national security interest of the United States, to prevent portions of Iraq, portions of the region from becoming a safe haven for ISIL extremists who may ultimately pose a threat to the United States over our interests abroad and our allies.
That is the lens through which the president approaches these matters and these decisions. And that obviously especially includes any contemplation of direct action," he went on. He reiterated "ultimately, Iraq has to take responsibility for its own security - we are still obviously very much in support of Iraq and the Iraqi government, but ultimately, they have to make some key political decisions about governing in a nonsectarian way and an inclusive way because only that will create the kind of stability that Iraq needs to move forward and protect its sovereignty." Carney stressed that any action that Obama "might contemplate when it comes to the use of military force would be to deal with the immediate and medium-term threat posed by ISIL and to make sure that our first and foremost objective in the region, which is to deny extremists a safe haven is pursued and achieved." "We are open to engaging the Iranians, just as we are engaging other regional players on the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq," but that in "any possible conversations with Iran, we would encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to act in a responsible non-sectarian way and to encourage the government of Iraq, and all Iraqi leaders, to do the same," Carney pointed out.
"Iraq's sovereignty must be respected. And the government of Iraq must focus now on strengthening its internal political and security institutions in a nonsectarian way," he stressed.
For her part, State Department Spokeswoman Jennfier Psaki said the US welcomes the national unity meeting held in Baghdad on Tuesday, saying: "We were encouraged to see that Iraqi leaders from all across the political and ethno-sectarian spectrum were a part of that." "We also welcome - the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court's ratification of the April 30th election results, and we support Iraqi political and religious leaders' call for national unity to confront the ISIL terrorist threat," she added.