Iraqi PM says he was ‘lucky to be alive’ after NY restaurant shooting

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was in New York on Friday for the U.N. General Assembly, where he addressed the international community on the current situation in the Middle East.

After a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Abadi told reporters that he was “lucky to be alive” following the incident. In a video of the press conference, he revealed that he came under gunfire while leaving a New York restaurant and that bullets pierced his car.

“I was able to escape,” he said in the video, “and I couldn’t help the others. There was a rocket, I heard the explosions and I think I was lucky to be alive.”

He said the incident highlighted the need for security reforms in Iraq, which was launched after ISIS took control of large portions of the country in 2014.

Abadi also confirmed that he was in private meetings with several U.S. government officials before meeting with President Donald Trump.

Abadi was previously an opposition leader who refused to accept an offer to be prime minister in 2014. Since then, the prime minister has worked to unite the Iraqi political scene and heal the national political split in the wake of the ISIS takeover.

The attack came a few days after the U.S. president canceled a trip to Iraq, citing security concerns following the killings of an estimated 400 people in a series of car bombs across Baghdad on Oct. 31.

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