Pompeo Meets Iraqi PM Over Americans’ Safety

Pompeo Meets Iraqi PM Over Americans’ Safety

Pompeo Meets Iraqi PM Over Americans’ Safety

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unscheduled visit to Baghdad after canceling a planned meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany.

Pompeo cancelled a trip to Germany on Tuesday to fly to Baghdad.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said in a tweet that he participated in two separate important meetings that Pompeo held with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Iraqi President Barham Salih.

"The reason we're going is you've all seen the reports that there have been escalating - information that indicates that Iran is escalating their activity", the Secretary of State said, according to a readout released by the State Department.

The issue of Iraq's exemption from USA sanctions against Iran was also addressed. The deployment was in response to "recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack USA forces", the Pentagon said.

Iran will resume high-level enrichment of uranium if world powers do not protect its interests against United States sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, responding to the U.S. withdrawal from a nuclear deal a year ago.

Mr Trump's national security adviser John Bolton said the move sent "a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interest or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force". "We're taking every action to deter them", he said.

Pompeo also said he wanted to underscore Iraq's need to protect Americans in their country. "We've urged the Iraqi government for its own security to get all of those forces under Iraqi central control", Pompeo said. Iranian media have said that Rouhani will announce retaliatory measures on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of Trump's pullout from a 2015 nuclear accord under which Tehran drastically scaled back its sensitive work. Iraq and Iran are neighbors, and maintain cordial relations.

In Iraq, a debate has been raging in recent months over the fate of some 5,200 U.S. troops stationed across the country. "This is an obligation that Iraq honours", he said. The U.S. also designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, the first time it has ever taken such a step for an entire division of another government.

Trump withdrew from the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, re-imposed punishing sanctions, including those targeting Iran's oil, shipping and banking sectors. Pompeo, who returns to Europe for talks Wednesday in London, said he would try to reschedule his trip "as soon as we possibly could".

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