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Obama Meets Kurdish Leader, Commends Bravery Of Peshmerga

U.S. President Barack Obama met the head of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region at the White House on May 5, courting a vital ally in the fight against Islamic militants.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met Massud Barzani to discuss the campaign to regain Iraqi territory lost to the Islamic State (IS) militant group and to commit to working together with Baghdad to maintain a "united, federal, and democratic Iraq."

Obama "commended the bravery of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces" which have played a critical role in liberating areas of northern Iraq seized by the militants, the White House said.

Looming is a fight over the northern city of Mosul, which IS has designated as the capital of its "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria. Some 4,000 to 6,000 Iraqis are being trained in Iraqi Kurdistan for the battle to retake the city.

Barzani's last visit to Washington was in April 2012. The meeting comes only weeks after a landmark visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP