U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Iraqi government Saturday to step up efforts to foster reconciliation between the nation’s Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities to combat Islamic State.
“National reconciliation is an important part of the strategy to defeat Daesh (Islamic State), who have ruthlessly exploited divisions and targeted the marginalized and disenfranchised,” he told a joint news conference in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The U.N. chief was referring to the country’s minority Sunnis who say they were marginalized under the Shiite-led government installed after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, leading some to join the militant group that seized swaths of Iraq nearly two years ago.
World Bank President Jim Young Kim and president of the Islamic Development Bank Ahmad Mohamed Ali joined Ban in the rare visit to Iraq’s capital and were expected to accompany him to the northern Kurdish city of Erbil later in the day.
Ali said the bank would contribute to the reconstruction of areas destroyed in fighting between Islamic State and U.S.-backed Iraqi forces seeking to recapture them.
The World Bank lent Iraq around $2 billion last year for reconstruction, infrastructure, and emergency budget support to help it deal with the economic effects of the fight against Islamic State and the low price of oil, which accounts for around 90 percent of government revenues.