Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi told reporters prior to his first official visit to the White House, the most important thing he wanted from the United States was more support in both the air campaign and arms delivery in the fight against ISIS. But White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that no specific request was made during the day’s closed door meetings.
“No. 1, is a marked increase in the air campaign and the delivery of arms,” Al-Abadi told CNN’s Arwa Damon at press conference on Monday when asked what was the most important thing he wanted from the United States. “There has been an increase that is noticeable … I am thankful for that but we want to see more.”
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But Earnest said that didn’t happen on Tuesday.
“Well, my understanding is that the published reports indicated a prediction that Prime Minister Abadi was going to show up at the White House with an invoice, if you will … And that’s not true,” he said after the prime minister’s meetings with Obama.
The prime minister did make a request to Obama for enhanced military support, including increased air strikes on ISIS targets, an Iraqi official told CNN.
However, the official also said that he was not aware of any requests to purchase equipment such as drones and helicopters, noting that Iraqis have a long-standing request to purchase such equipment, though the prime minister “would like to see more of them”.
When asked at a joint press availability Tuesday whether the U.S. would give Iraq additional weapons such as drones or helicopters, Obama said, “I think this is why we are having this meeting to make sure that we are continually improving our coordination to make sure Iraqi security forces are in a position to succeed in our common mission.”
The prime minister also requested enhanced coordination with Iraqi security forces, the official added.
The official pointed to recent ISIS attacks on the Baiji oil refinery as a reason for boosting U.S. Iraqi military cooperation.
“If we can enhance the current coordination, then we can avoid these sorts of attacks,” the official said of the ISIS assault on Baiji.
As for the personal relationship between Abadi and Obama, the official said “they get on well.”
Aside from military cooperation, the prime minister also requested that the U.S. and Iraq work together on other areas of potential cooperation, including economic development opportunities in Iraq.
While Prime Minister Abadi is said to be pleased with the Obama administration’s offer of $200 million in humanitarian assistance, an Iraqi official said the Prime Minister is not seeking any additional financial support.
“He’s not really here to get cash,” an Iraqi government official said.
CNN’s Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.