US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Tuesday and met with both President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi after telling reporters the United States was concerned about Iraqi sovereignty because of increasing Iranian activity, according to Reuters.
“I wanted to go to Baghdad to speak with the leadership there, to assure them that we stood ready to continue to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation,” Pompeo said as cited by Reuters.
On the way to Baghdad on Tuesday, Pompeo told reporters he would meet with Iraq’s president and prime minister to show them what he said is US. support for “a sovereign, independent” Iraq, free from the influence of neighboring Iran, AP reported.
He reportedly said he would also discuss with them unfinished business deals that he said would allow Iraq to wean itself from dependence on Iranian energy.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his surprise visit Tuesday to Iraq was in response to “escalating” perceived threats from neighboring Iran, AFP reports.
“The reason we’re going is… information that indicates Iran is escalating their activity,” Pompeo told reporters accompanying him.
Pompeo claimed that Iraqi leaders promised him to ‘adequately protect’ US interests, according to AFP report.
“We talked to them about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country,” Pompeo said as cited by AFP. “They both provided assurances that they understood that was their responsibility.”
An Iraqi government source confirmed the meeting with Abdul Mahdi but did not elaborate on the details, Reuters reported.
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.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC)’s spokesman Keivan Khosravi, reacting to the US announcement, noted that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier had entered the Mediterranean 21 days ago, adding that Bolton “lacks military and security understanding and his remarks are mostly meant to draw attention to himself.”