BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday as he began a tour of the Middle East to build military, political and financial support to defeat Islamic State militants controlling parts of Iraq and Syria.
Kerry on Monday had hailed the formation of a new, more inclusive, Iraqi government under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as a "major milestone", and Washington had said it was vital before there could be further US action to help push back the militants, who took over large parts of northern Iraq this year.
Kerry flew to Baghdad from Jordan, the first stop on his tour, which will also include Saudi Arabia and probably other Arab capitals.
Last week, nine countries, most of them in Europe, were named as the core group of a coalition President Barack Obama says will degrade and eventually destroy Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in the land it took over and executed many prisoners, including two American journalists who were beheaded.
In Washington, Obama will give a speech on Wednesday in which he will detail his plan to confront the radicals, which could take several years.