Remarks at a Stakeout With Iraqi President Fuad Masum and Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jafari

John Kerry
Secretary of State
UN Headquarters
New York City
September 23, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Mr. President, you go right ahead.

PRESIDENT MASUM: (Via interpreter) Our meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State was very positive and very fruitful. We have discussed several issues, especially the situation in Iraq and the region. And also, we specifically focused on this terrorist organization known as ISIL. We have common views concerning this issue, and also we believe that the latest session of the UN Security Council was remarkable, and it gives peace and – gives assurances to people in the region that this threat will be dealt with.

Therefore, we would like to thank the countries that have come together in order to support Iraq and to stand by Iraq and support it in its war against terrorism, which is a new threat in this area.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much. Delighted to be here with President Masum and with Foreign Minister Jafari, who have already proven to be important partners in this effort, and I appreciate the very constructive meeting that we’ve just had to talk about where we are.

Before I get started, I want to just say a few words about our decision to conduct strikes against ISIL targets in Syria, and also against seasoned al-Qaida operatives in Syria, who are known as the Khorasan Group. We have been very clear from the beginning we will not allow geography or borders to prevent us from being able to take action against ISIL, and we will not allow them to have a safe haven where they think they can have sanctuary against accountability. We will hold them responsible for their grotesque atrocities, and we will not allow these terrorists to find a safe haven anywhere. That is President Obama’s resolve.

If left unchecked, ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq and to the region, but it is a threat to countries elsewhere, including here. From the beginning President Obama has been very clear that this is not America’s fight alone. ISIL poses a threat to not just Iraq and Syria but to the region as a whole, and the region has to be a leader in this effort in order to fight back.

I want to commend President Masum and Prime Minister Abadi for the critically important steps that Iraq has taken to help form a government, and it is obviously important that they continue to take those steps, and we talked about some of that today. They are committed to doing so.

But they’ve also been, importantly, reaching out to their neighbors and helping to build this coalition. More than 50 countries have now agreed to join this effort to combat ISIL, including the Arab countries that joined us last night in taking military action in Syria. The overall effort is going to take time, there are challenges ahead, but we are going to do what is necessary to take the fight to ISIL, to begin to make it clear that terrorism, extremism does not have a place in the building of civilized society. And we will work with our friends from Iraq in order to make certain that their choice to move forward in a democratic and viable way will bear fruit and be supported by the international community.

Thank you.