Pompeo Discusses Security In Iraq

Pompeo Discusses Security In Iraq

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Iraq yesterday, a surprise trip that comes amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Pompeo met with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali al-Hakim said on Twitter.

The secretary told reporters on the flight that his meetings with Iraq's president and prime minister were meant to demonstrate US support for "a sovereign, independent" Iraq, free from the influence of neighbouring Iran.

Speaking after the meetings, Pompeo told reporters that he made the surprise visit to Iraq because Iran "is escalating their activity" in the region following the US move to ban Iranian oil exports.

US officials have said there were indications Iran was planning to retaliate for the Trump administration's stepped-up sanctions on the country, although the threat information remains vague.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said the deployment was in response to a "number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings", but did not elaborate.

On Wednesday, also known as the one-year mark of USA withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, Washington slapped fresh sanctions on the iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors of Iran, aiming to further deprive Tehran's export revenue.

More news: Iran rolls back part of nuclear pact, France issues warning

Pompeo had been en route to Germany but suddenly canceled the trip due to "pressing issues", the State Department said, without elaborating where he was heading.

The "campaign to continue to prevent ISIS terror inside of Iraq itself is something that's very central.to the Iraqi government", Pompeo said.

"We've made clear that if the risk exceeds the threshold for the United States, we simply won't be able to share that information any longer", he said last month. Iraq has a close relationship with the US, which is leading the worldwide coalition in the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Iran, meanwhile, was expected to announced Wednesday that it would partially withdraw from the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015. More than 5,000 USA troops are stationed on Iraqi soil.

President Hassan Rouhani Wednesday announced Tehran's withdrawal from complying with the restrictions posed by the Iran nuclear deal on the country's enriched uranium reserves and heavy water supplies. "This is an obligation that Iraq would honour, (and) not accept any attack on anyone whether Iraqi, foreigner, whether it's an embassy or a company or a military mission", he said.

A senior diplomat in Greenland, Kenneth Hoegh, earlier told AFP that Pompeo's visit was being postponed.

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