Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan October 15-17. In meetings in Baghdad on October 15, Mr. McDonough underscored the U.S. commitment to Iraq’s success through the structure of the bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement. He reviewed our cooperation on security issues, and discussed how the U.S. and Iraq could further improve their partnership, including on counterterrorism. In meetings with President Talabani, Prime Minister Maliki, and with Parliament Speaker Nujayfi and others, Mr. McDonough stressed the President’s support for Iraq’s independent democratic institutions, and urged inclusive dialogue toward national reconciliation. Mr. McDonough reiterated our view that that any investigation into Iraq’s Central Bank must be transparent, in accordance with Iraqi law and free from political influence to avoid undermining the independence of the institution or investor confidence in Iraq. In all of his meetings with Iraq’s leaders, Mr. McDonough discussed Syria, with a particular focus on ensuring that violence from Syria does not degrade Iraq’s domestic security. During his visit to Baghdad, Mr. McDonough spoke with Roman Catholic Archbishop Jean Sleiman and expressed the President’s continuing support for the rights and security of all of Iraq’s minority groups.
On October 16 and 17 in Afghanistan, Deputy National Security Advisor McDonough met with U.S. civilian and military leaders, as well as our coalition and Afghan partners, in Kabul, and in Eastern and Southern Afghanistan. In these meetings, he discussed the current state of transition to Afghan lead and our progress towards meeting the objectives agreed to at the NATO Summit in Chicago earlier this year. In Kabul, Mr. McDonough met with General Allen and other senior ISAF officials to discuss the military campaign, the transition process, and the status of building and strengthening the Afghan National Security Forces to assume responsibility as U.S. and coalition forces continue to draw down. Mr. McDonough also met with Ambassador Cunningham and Embassy staff to discuss Afghanistan’s political transition, including reconciliation, the upcoming 2014 elections, and implementation of our mutual commitments under the Strategic Partnership Agreement. Mr. McDonough completed his visit by meeting with military personnel in Regional Command-East and Regional Command-South, to hear their perspective on the challenges they face as we move forward, including the recent troubling trend of insider attacks and the mitigation steps being taken against them.