President Barack Obama has said the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as Iraq’s prime minister-designate is a ‘promising step forward’.

He’s acknowledged that Iraq had been through ‘difficult days’, and urged its political leaders to work together.

Earlier on Monday, Iraq’s President asked Mr. Abadi to form a new government, snubbing the incumbent Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Mr Maliki said Mr Abadi’s nomination was a ‘violation of the constitution’.

Speaking from his holiday retreat in Martha’s Vineyard, Mr Obama also said US forces had successfully carried out air strikes against Islamist militants in northern Iraq.

Fighters from the Islamic State group have made substantial gains in northern Iraq in recent months, forcing tens of thousands of people from religious minorities to flee their homes.

As well as the air strikes, the US has conducted air drops of essential supplies to the Yazidi people stuck on a mountain range.