On visit, Pompeo sees Iraq guarantees on 'imminent' Iran threat

On visit, Pompeo sees Iraq guarantees on 'imminent' Iran threat

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

On Tuesday, instead of flying to Germany, Pompeo made an unannounced detour to Iraq - where Iran has a major influence - and said that the country's leaders had promised to protect USA interests.

Responding to a question about whether Iraq could protect US interests from attacks by Iran and its proxy forces, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Tuesday that Iraq takes its responsibilities seriously.

Pompeo said he would provide assurances of continued USA support to train Iraqi security forces, and urge them to pursue energy deals with Jordan and Egypt so they could reduce their dependency on the Iranian electrical grid, the report mentioned.

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.

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.

Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, whose foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, had also been set to meet Pompeo in Nuuk.

"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. The U.S. said this week that it is rushing an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East to deter or respond to any Iranian attack. "We've urged the Iraqi government for its own security to get all of those forces under Iraqi central control", Pompeo said.

According to a source with knowledge of the matter, Pumpo and Saleh highlighted the issue of extending Iraq's exemptions from USA sanctions against Iran and not creating tension with Iran. More than 5,000 US troops are stationed on Iraqi soil.

"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.

Trump withdrew from the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, reinstated punishing sanctions, including those targeting Iran's oil, shipping and banking sectors.

With the imposition of United States sanctions, Iran has grown increasingly frustrated that it has not seen the fruits of the agreement, with which UN inspectors say it is complying.

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