By Kyle Balluck - 06/22/14 08:33 AM EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday will call on Iraq’s neighbors to take seriously the threat of Islamic militants who have captured key territories in Syria and Iraq.
A senior State Department official briefing reporters ahead of the trip said Kerry would underscore the severity of the threat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria poses to Iraq and its neighbors as well as the U.S.
Kerry will also stress the need for Iraqi officials to form an inclusive government, the official added.
The official said the U.S. is not asking Iraq’s neighbors to intervene in Iraqi politics, but instead echo the message of U.S. officials through diplomatic channels that an inclusive government that can fight ISIS with solid, broad support would improve Iraq's security.
Kerry’s visit follows reports that Obama administration officials are urging Iraqi political leaders to replace Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki.
There appears to be bipartisan support in the United States to get rid of al-Maliki. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are among a number of lawmakers who have said the situation in Iraq can’t be resolved until al-Maliki steps down.
But White House spokesman Jay Carney said last Wednesday that Iraq's leadership wasn't up to the United States.
"That's not obviously for us to decide," he said in response to a question about whether al-Maliki should step down.
Vice President Biden spoke with al-Maliki last Wednesday, urging him to govern in an inclusive manner that would promote stability in Iraq's population.
Sources told Reuters on Sunday that ISIS took three towns in Anbar province
A military intelligence official told the news service that Iraqi troops had withdrawn from Rawa and Ana after ISIS militants attacked late Saturday.
ISIS also captured the town of Rutba, Reuters reported.
--Rebecca Shabad contributed to this report.