Pompeo reveals details of his surprise visit to Baghdad

Pompeo reveals details of his surprise visit to Baghdad

08/16/2019 8:16

Pompeo reveals details of his surprise visit to BaghdadUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Tuesday and met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and other senior officials to discuss US security in Iraq.
The visit comes two days after US national security adviser John Bolton said Washington would deploy the Abraham Lincoln bomber squadron and bomber force to the Middle East because of “the real threat posed by the Iranian regime’s forces.”
Fears of a threat from Iranian troops come after Washington has stepped up sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program in recent months and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been labeled a terrorist organization.
“We talked to them about the importance of Iraq ensuring its ability to protect the Americans in their country properly,” Pompeo told reporters after meeting Abdul-Mahdi.
A source in the Iraqi government confirmed that Pompeo had met Abdul Mahdi but gave no details.
The aim of the meeting is also to inform Iraqi officials of the “increased threat we have observed” so that they can effectively protect US forces, Pompeo said.
He expressed his country’s support for Iraqi sovereignty, saying: “We do not want to enter any party in their country and certainly not by attacking another state inside Iraq.”
Asked before the meetings whether there was a danger to the Baghdad government from Iran, although this raised US concerns over the sovereignty of Iraq, he replied: “No. In general, this is our position since the National Security Strategy was launched at the beginning of the administration of President Donald Trump.
When asked about the decision to move the aircraft carrier and bombers to the region, he said that Washington wants to defend its interests from the Iranian threat and ensure that it has the necessary forces to achieve this goal.
“The message we sent to the Iranians, I hope, puts us in a position where we can deter and the Iranians will think twice about attacking US interests,” he said. He noted that US intelligence was “very specific” about “imminent attacks”.
He said the United States urged Iraq to move quickly to subject the independent factions under Iranian influence to the control of the central government, adding that these factions make Iraq a “less stable country.”
He said he had talked with Iraqi officials about their energy and infrastructure needs, particularly in the electricity, oil and natural gas sectors. He said he discussed with them ways to move forward at a rapid pace in projects that could help improve the lives of Iraqis.
For his part, the US Special Envoy to the International Coalition against the former supporter, Brett McGurk, said that Pompeo’s visit to Baghdad is to reduce the risk of misunderstanding and also the lack of diplomatic channels with Iran.
“Pompeo’s visit to Baghdad is a smart move to meet Iraqi leaders face-to-face,” McGork said in a tweet on his Twitter page.
“The visit is for more communication, and this is better to reduce the risk of misunderstanding and misjudgment,” he said, noting that “the lack of diplomatic channels with Iran increases the need for indirect communication through Baghdad.”
It is noteworthy that the US Secretary of State arrived in Baghdad late on Tuesday night, during which he met with Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and President Barham Saleh.

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