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US commends al-Maliki for stepping aside

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Friday, August 15, 2014 - 10:16 am

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration commended Iraq's incumbent prime minister Thursday for stepping aside, calling it a milestone that sets the stage for a peaceful transition of power that could unite Iraqis against the security threat from Islamic State militants.

After initially struggling to stay in power, Nouri al-Maliki relinquished his post late Thursday to a fellow Dawa Party member, Haider al-Abadi, which Secretary of State John Kerry called an "important and honorable decision."

"We urge Mr. Abadi and all Iraqi leaders to move expeditiously to complete this process, which is essential to pulling the country together and consolidating the efforts of Iraq's many diverse communities against the common threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," Kerry said, using the former name of the militant group.

Kerry said the U.S. stands ready to partner with a new Iraqi government to counter the Islamic State threat, "and we will encourage other countries in the region and international community to do the same."

President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, echoed Kerry's remarks, saying the U.S. remained committed to a strong partnership with Iraq and its people.

Rice's statement was issued while she accompanied Obama on his Martha's Vineyard vacation.