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US holds Iraq responsible for delay in concluding F-16 aircraft deal

The United States said it holds the Iraqi government responsible for the delayed delivery of the F-16 fighter aircrafts.

Deputy spokesperson for the US State Department, Marie Harf, said at a news conference yesterday: “We are committed to delivering F-16 aircrafts as soon as possible.” She pointed out that the delivery process is stalled because of Iraq and has been further complicated now after the deterioration of the security situation in Iraq.

She said: “Our goal was to have had these steps nearly done by this point,” in reference to the deadline scheduling next autumn for the delivery of the first two aircrafts. Harf pointed out that the Iraqi government was slow in finishing some preparations including “housing and securing the aircraft, completion of pilot training, and completion of required financial and administrative details”.

Harf downplayed the importance of reports that Russia and Iran were providing Iraq with weapons to help it fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) saying, “If there were other countries that want to help, we do not see a big problem in that”, emphasising that these weapons need to go to the Iraqi army and the armed forces and not to any militia or other groups.

She welcomed “the Saudi financial contribution to the United Nations to support humanitarian efforts to help the Iraqis.” Stressing that the US will not allow the sanctions imposed against Iran to be violated under the pretext of providing aid to Iraq in its war against ISIS.

Harf said the US continues to believe in the need to preserve Iraqi unity, stressing that Kurdish officials have confirmed to US Secretary of State, John Kerry, during his recent visit to the region, that they will be involved in the process of forming a government and that they will assist in finding ways to form a unity government to resolve the political and security crisis caused by ISIS.

Iraq had recently agreed to purchase 36 F-16 fighter jets from the United States to support the Iraqi army.

Asia & AmericasIraqMiddle EastNewsUS
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