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Obama says Iraq’s government needs to step it up

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Friday, June 13, 2014, at 12:40 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, June 13, 2014, at 2:06 p.m.

President Barack Obama said Friday he’s considering a range of options to aid Iraq’s besieged government, but warned that it’s "ultimately up to the Iraqis" to solve its problems.

Obama – who campaigned against the war in 2008 – ruled out sending U.S. troops back into combat in the country – but said the terrorist group poses not only a danger to Iraq, but "could pose a threat, eventually to American interests."

Obama -- who made brief remarks on the White House lawn before leaving for North Dakota, said he’s asked his national security team to prepare a range of options, but warned that the U.S. needs Iraq to “demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.

"This is not solely or even primarily a military challenge," Obama said.

He noted the U.S. military has made "extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future," but charged that Iraqi leaders have been unable to overcome mistrust and sectarian differences, “creating vulnerabilities for the Iraqi government, as well as its security forces.

"Any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq's leaders to set aside sectarian differences," Obama said. "We can't do it for them.”

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