JEDDAH: US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Tuesday that developments in Iraq, where militants have seized swathes of the country, emphasise the need to combat terror financing.
Lew told a press conference in Jeddah after talks with Saudi counterpart Ibrahim al-Assaf that close cooperation between the two countries “is even more important given our shared concerns about developments in Iraq”.
“The events in Iraq also underscore the importance more broadly of redoubling our efforts to combat the financing of terrorist organisations,” Lew added.
Militants spearheaded by powerful group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and joined by supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, launched their lightning assault on June 9.
Since then they have captured Mosul, a city of two million people, and a big chunk of mainly Sunni Arab territory stretching south towards the capital.
Lew said he discussed with Assaf “the need for Iraqi leaders to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to confront terrorist groups such as ISIL.”
He described Riyadh as one of Washington’s “most important partners in combating terrorist financing.”
His comments came soon after the Iraqi government issued a statement accusing Saudi Arabia of financing militants.
“We hold (Saudi Arabia) responsible for what these groups are receiving in terms of financial and moral support,” the Iraqi government said in a statement, accusing Riyadh of “siding with terrorism”.