BAGHDAD— Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Oct. 18 called for Washington to speed up its delivery of weapons for Baghdad’s forces, barely a week after Iraq signed $4.2 billion in arms deals with Moscow.
Maliki’s remarks, published in a statement released by his office, came as he met U.S. Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter in Baghdad and spoke of the “need for the Iraqi army to develop its defensive abilities to protect Iraq’s security and national sovereignty.”
He urged the United States to “speed up the arming of the Iraqi army with what they need in terms of defensive weapons that can protect the sovereignty of Iraq and its independence, and provide a deterrent towards any assault,” his office said.
It added that Carter told Maliki he had come to Iraq to discuss Baghdad’s defense and counter-terror needs, and that he told the premier U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would visit Baghdad soon for similar reasons.
The two sides also discussed the conflict in Iraq’s western neighbor Syria, Maliki’s office said.
On Oct. 9, Russia unveiled $4.2 billion in arms deals with Iraq, making it Baghdad’s second-largest weapons supplier after the United States.
Russian media said the deliveries — expected to have been signed in a single package this week — covered 30 Mi-28 attack helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems.
Discussions were also said to be underway for Iraq’s eventual acquisition of a large batch of MiG-29 fighters and helicopters along with heavy weaponry.