Pompeo Discusses Security In Iraq


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a lightning visit Tuesday to Baghdad aimed at showing support for the Iraqi government as the United States has been picking up intelligence that Iran is threatening American interests in the Middle East.

Pompeo on Thursday canceled his scheduled visit to Greenland due to the escalation of tensions with Iran, media reported, citing a state department official.

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 USA move to ban Iranian oil exports.

He refused to give further details, but U.S. media reports say Iran has likely moved short-range ballistic missiles to ships in the Persian Gulf that could target United States troops and those of USA allies.

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On Sunday national Security Adviser John Bolton announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force have been deployed to the US Central Command region in order to send a message to Iran after the United States received warnings that Iran may possibly attack its interests or its allies in the region.

According to a source with knowledge of the matter, Pumpo and Saleh highlighted the issue of extending Iraq's exemptions from US sanctions against Iran and not creating tension with Iran. "We're taking every action to deter them", he said.

In Iraq, a debate has been raging in recent months over the fate of some 5,200 U.S. troops stationed across the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in November after Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal between Tehran, Washington and five other countries. Their presence angers the Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force that is dominated by pro-Iran factions which played a key role alongside government forces in the fight against IS.

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In a press conference a few hours before Pompeo's arrival, Abdel Mahdi said Iraq would not accept any attack on foreign troops on its land.

Germany has wide disagreements with the Trump administration and along with other European nations still supports the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated under former USA president Barack Obama. "Iraq really is taking the responsibility to avoid any attack on any of our friends here, coalition forces or any of our friends here", he told reporters.

"Iraq is going to need two or three years to achieve self-sufficiency in the field, which will be possible only if big projects are implemented", Al-Khateeb said.

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

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