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Kerry urges Iraqi leaders to rise above sectarianism

US Secretary of State John Kerry on a surprise Egypt visit urged Iraqi leaders to rise above sectarianism, and said Washington was not responsible for the country's crisis.

CAIRO: US Secretary of State John Kerry on a surprise Egypt visit on Sunday urged Iraqi leaders to rise above sectarianism, and said Washington was not responsible for the country's crisis.

Kerry had arrived in Cairo as part of a diplomatic mission to push Egypt toward democracy, but also to discuss the crisis in Iraq, where Sunni militants have made new advances in an offensive that has alarmed the world.

"ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant)... its ideology of violence and repression is a threat not only to Iraq but the entire region," Kerry said at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri.

"This is a critical moment when together we must urge Iraq's leaders to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs, speak to the demands of all their people."

Kerry also said the "US is not engaged in picking or choosing or advocating for any one individual, or a series of individuals to assume the leadership of Iraq. That is up to the Iraqi people."

"The United States of America is not responsible for what happened in Libya, nor is it responsible for what is happening in Iraq today," he said.

"The United States shed blood and worked hard for years to provide Iraqis with the opportunity to have their own governance... but ISIL crossed the line from Syria, began plotting internally, and they have attacked communities and they are the ones marching through to disrupt this ability of the people of Iraq to form their government and have the future that they want."

"This is about ISIL's terrorist designs on the state of Iraq."

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