Secretary of State John Kerry visited Baghdad on Monday amid a surge by Islamist militants who have seized large sections of Iraq. NBC News' Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell described Kerry's trip as a "high-stakes mission to press Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki and other leaders to quickly form a government." Mitchell added: "U.S. officials privately hope other Shiite leaders will step up to replace Maliki, whom they blame for creating the tensions that gave ISIS an opening to launch their onslaught." Kerry and Maliki met for about a 100 minutes. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Robert "Steve" Beecroft and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Brett McGurk also attended.
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While visiting Egypt on Sunday, Kerry warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) was a "threat to all of the countries in the region." The Sunni militants have taken control of cities including Mosul and Tikrit and vowed to seize Baghdad. Kerry also dismissed accusations that the U.S. was to blame for Iraq's unrest. "What's happening in Iraq is not happening because of the United States, in terms of this current crisis," he said. "This is about ISIL's [another acronym for ISIS] terrorist designs on the state of Iraq. And no one should mistake what is happening or why."
- Jason Cumming and Catherine Chomiak
First published June 22 2014, 11:51 PM