Obama phones Iraqi prime minister, will meet with U.S. lawmakers on Islamic State

A source said an Islamic State attack on Dhuluiya was carried out before dawn and continued for two hours.

 President Barack Obama, senior cabinet officials and his defense and intelligence chiefs will meet with U.S. lawmakers this week and next as the administration seeks support for an offensive against Islamic State militants.

Obama will deliver a speech to Americans on Wednesday to lay out his "game plan" to halt the Islamist group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq, as he tries to head off public concerns that the country could be moving toward another full-scale war.

Ahead of the speech, Obama will meet on Tuesday with the four leaders of Congress - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Also on Tuesday, his CIA Director John Brennan, and James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, will brief the Senate Intelligence Committee, the panel's chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, told reporters.

Administration officials also will hold a briefing for the 100 members of the Senate on Wednesday and for all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify on Sept. 16 at a hearing on U.S. policy toward Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State.

And John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, is due to testify the same day before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

On Monday, Obama phoned Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss Washington's commitment to help Baghdad's new government fight Islamic State militants, the White House said.

"The president and the prime minister agreed on the importance of having the new government quickly take concrete steps to address the aspirations and legitimate grievances of the Iraqi people," the White House said in a statement.

"The prime minister expressed his commitment to work with all communities in Iraq as well as regional and international partners to strengthen Iraq's capabilities to fight against this common enemy," the White House said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the formation of a new government in Baghdad as "a major milestone" for Iraq.

"Overcoming the obstacle of ethnic and sectarian divides, the Iraqi parliament approved a new and inclusive government, one that has the potential to unite all of Iraq's diverse communities for a strong Iraq, a united Iraq, and to give those communities the chance to build the future that all Iraqis desire and deserve," Kerry told reporters at the State Department.

He said he would travel to the Middle East on Tuesday "to build the broadest possible coalition of partners around the globe to confront, degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL," an acronym for Islamic State.

Iraq's parliament approved a new government headed by Abadi as prime minister on Monday.

Abadi, a Shi'ite Islamist, included members of Iraq's Shi'ite majority and its Kurdish and Sunni minorities in his Cabinet as he begin the uphill task of unifying the country after this summer's devastating loss of territory across northern Iraq to Islamic State fighters.

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