WASHINGTON, Aug 28 (AA/APP):U.S. Vice President Mike Pence discussed the security situation in northern Iraq with the head of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region during a telephone call Tuesday.
Pence’s discussions with Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani included “the importance of enhancing efforts to bring stability to the disputed territories and allowing for the return of Iraqis, including religious and ethnic minority communities, displaced by conflict,” the White House said in a statement.
Pence commended Barzani for providing refuge to the displaced and “for leading Iraq’s efforts to protect those impacted by conflict in recent years,” it added, while noting the leaders pledged further cooperation to thwart any possible resurgence by the Daesh terror group.
“Vice President Pence emphasized the United States’ concern that Iran-backed militias continue to undermine Iraq’s security and sovereignty and that the U.S. Government will consider additional steps to degrade such groups’ influence,” the White House said, stressing that the vice president noted the July 18 ‘Global Magnitsky’ designation of militia leaders supported by Iran for their human rights abuses in northern Iraq.
The Magnitsky Act is a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012 intending to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009.
Since 2016, the bill, which applies globally, authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those who it sees as human rights offenders, freezing their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S.