- Associated Press - Saturday, June 29, 2019

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq’s sacrifices fighting the Islamic State group have earned the country greater support in its reconstruction efforts from the international community, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Saturday.

Abdul-Mahdi made his comments Saturday morning during a meeting with a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation, the first such visit to Iraq.

The Security Council delegation included, among others, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of June Mansour Al-Otaibi and the U.S. envoy at the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen.

Iraq declared victory over the IS in July 2017, after its military regained control of the country’s second-largest city, Mosul, three years after it was seized by extremists bent on building a global caliphate.

The war against IS left many Iraqi cities, towns and villages destroyed and Iraq has been struggling to reconstruct them. International donors pledged $30 billion to help rebuild Iraq last year, far short of the estimated $88.2 billion needed.

The delegation also met President Barham Saleh, who told the guests that Iraq wants to contribute to efforts that would strengthen stability adding that Baghdad has a desire to solve international matters “by encouraging dialogue between all sides.”

Iraq said in recent weeks that it wants to mediate between the U.S. and Iran, two countries with whom it has close relations. Tension between Iraq’s two allies has been rising for nearly two months.

The crisis gripping the Middle East stems from President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States a year ago from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and then imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran.

Last month, the U.S. ordered the evacuation of nonessential diplomatic staff from Iraq amid unspecified threats from Iran.

There have been attacks over the past weeks on U.S. interests in Iraq, including military bases where American trainers are based and a rocket attack near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Iraq hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops, and is also home to powerful Iranian-backed militias.

Saleh said according to a statement released by his office that it is important “to preserve Iraq’s sovereignty, security and unity amid the crises the region is witnessing.

The delegation later met with the president of Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani, Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament Vala Fared and others.

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