Kerry in Baghdad for Talks on Tackling Islamic State
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting in Baghdad with the new Iraqi government to help coordinate the fight against Islamic State militants.
Kerry, who is beginning a week-long tour in the region, landed early Wednesday in the Iraqi capital, where he will meet with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The U.S. hopes the new government can unite Iraq, unlike its previous leaders, who were blamed for marginalizing the Sunni minority and helping give rise to extremists.
Kerry's talks come ahead of a Wednesday speech in which President Barack Obama will lay out his strategy to deal with the extremist group, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria.
White House officials have given no specifics on what Mr. Obama plans to say. The president has already ruled out sending U.S. forces back into Iraq.
On Tuesday the president briefed Democratic and Republican leaders from both houses of Congress on his plan.
The United States has already carried out 153 airstrikes on Islamic State targets inside Iraq, and U.S. officials have discussed the possibility of expanding that campaign.
Ahead of his trip, Kerry said the U.S. is trying to form a broad global coalition to "confront, degrade and ultimately defeat" the Islamic State group.
Japan Approves Restart of Two Nuclear Reactors
Japan's nuclear regulator has given final approval to restart two reactors shut down following the Fukushima nuclear meltdown three years ago.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Wednesday that the Sendai power plant in southwestern Japan could reopen, although local approval is still needed.
Some activists say the plant is not safe because of nearby volcanoes, though regulators have said the danger from this is minimal.
It would be the first of Japan's nuclear plants to restart under stricter standards following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Japan switched off its nuclear reactors for maintenance after the Fukushima accident crippled the plant and exposed the surrounding area to radiation. Since then, Japanese citizens have faced higher energy prices as the nation switched its dependence to fossil fuels.
But opposition to nuclear energy in Japan remains strong, with repeated protests staged in front of the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been pushing to get Japan's nuclear plants running again.
Nuclear energy once supplied more than quarter of the power in resource-starved Japan.