The U.S. secretary of state discussed the current government formation process in Iraq with the country's prime minister-designate in a phone call.
Mike Pompeo called Iraq's Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi in order to reaffirm the U.S.' enduring commitment to "a strong, sovereign, and prosperous" Iraq, department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Sunday in a statement.
"Secretary Pompeo welcomed Prime Minister-designate Allawi’s promise to hold early elections to strengthen Iraq’s democratic system," she said, adding: "He urged the new prime minister to resolve differences with Iraq's Kurdish and Sunni political leaders to assure success in pursuing the vital tasks faced by his government."
Pompeo also stressed Iraq's obligation to protect U.S. and coalition diplomats, troops and facilities during the call.
Pompeo and Allawi further discussed the protest movement in Iraq and the "urgency with which Iraq's next government must put an end to the killing of protesters, seek justice for those killed and wounded and address their legitimate grievances."
Pompeo and Allawi also agreed on the importance of kickstarting reforms that would better position the government to provide the Iraqi people a life of "dignity, prosperity, and security."
Iraq has been rocked by mass protests since October for poor living conditions and high unemployment, forcing Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to resign.
More than 600 people have been killed and 17,000 injured since protests erupted in October, according to an Iraqi human rights group.
Sitting premier Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced on Nov. 29 that his government would step down on March 2 following a constitutional deadline during which parliament should approve a new cabinet.
He warned of a constitutional vacuum if parliament failed to approve the new government of Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi by that date.
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