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Kerry meets Iraqi PM in Baghdad

The US Secretary of State met Nuri al-Maliki to push for a more inclusive government.

US Secretary of State John Kerry. Picture:AFP.

BAGHDAD - US Secretary of State John Kerry met Iraq's prime minister in Baghdad on Monday to push for a more inclusive government, even as Baghdad's forces abandoned the border with Jordan, leaving the entire Western frontier outside government control.

Sunni tribes took the Turaibil border crossing, the only legal crossing point between Iraq and Jordan, after Iraqi security forces fled, Iraqi and Jordanian security sources said.

The tribes were negotiating to hand the post over to insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant who took control of two main crossings with Syria over the weekend.

Kurdish forces control a third border post with Syria in the north, leaving central government troops with no presence along the entire Western frontier which includes some of the most important east-west trade routes in the Middle East.

For the insurgents, capturing the frontier is a dramatic step towards the goal of erasing the modern border altogether and building a caliphate across swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Washington, which withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011 after an occupation that followed the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, has been struggling to help Iraq contain a Sunni insurgency led by ISIL, an al Qaeda offshoot which seized northern towns this month.

US President Barack Obama agreed last week to send up to 300 special forces troops as advisers, but has held off from providing air strikes and ruled out redeploying ground troops.

Washington is worried that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shia-led government has worsened the insurgency by alienating moderate Sunnis who once fought al Qaeda but have now joined the ISIL revolt.

While Washington has been careful not to say publicly it wants Maliki to relinquish power, Iraqi officials say such a message has been delivered behind the scenes.