WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Thursday of potential instability in Iraq due to a convergence of persistent violence at home and an ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria.
"Iraq sits at the intersection of regional currents of increasingly turbulent, violent and unpredictable actions," Kerry told reporters at the State Department when he and his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari held a bilateral meeting.
"Sunni and Shia extremists on both sides of the sectarian divide throughout the region have an ability to be able to threaten Iraq's stability if they're not checked," he said.
Deadly attacks are continuing unabated in Iraq after the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq reported the killings of more than 1, 000 Iraqis in acts of terrorism and violence in July, the deadliest month in more than five years.
Kerry also cited "a horrific series of assaults" in Iraq launched by al-Qaida, including the attacks on Sunday that killed 74 people during the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Noting that many al-Qaida leaders are operating in Syria, he called for all parties to work together toward a diplomatic settlement to the Syrian crisis.
He raised again the issue of weapons flowing from Syria into Iraq and vice versa, warning "It's a two-way street and it's a dangerous street."
For his part, Zebari stressed that his country is not heading to a civil or sectarian war. He said he came to Washington to seek U.S. help and support as well as cooperation on security.
"Al-Qaida is not a local threat," he said. "It's a global threat, as we've seen by the recent closures of so many of your diplomatic missions in the region and in North Africa."
The minister said Iraq is pursing an "independent and neutral position" on the Syrian conflict. "We kept our distance on both sides of the conflict, and Iraq has not provided arms, money or oil to the Syrian regimes," he added.
The Iraqi side reaffirmed its commitment to bar the transit of weapons through its territory and welcomed the Obama administration's recent notification to the U.S. Congress of a potential Iraqi purchase of an integrated air defense system, according to a joint statement issued at the conclusion of a bilateral meeting.
Kerry and Zebari had one-on-one talks ahead of the meeting.