HEADLINES:

US Secretary of State makes surprise visit to Iraq

Met with US troops, Iraqi officials
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi (R) in Baghdad, Iraq, during a Middle East tour, January 9, 2019. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS
2019-01-09

936 View

+ -

SULAIMANI — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit on Wednesday (January 9).

Pompeo was welcomed by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi upon his arrival.

He met with American troops and Iraqi leaders to reassure them about a US military withdrawal from Syria and warn that Iran remains a regional security threat, according to Reuters.

He met with the leaders of each branch of Iraq's government -- Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi, and President Barham Salih -- and his counterpart Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim.

Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said that the meetings were wide ranging.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi, Pompeo “underlined the US commitment to Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and US support for the new Iraqi government’s efforts to deliver stability, security, and prosperity to all Iraqis.”

“The Secretary also discussed the recent territorial defeat of ISIS [Islamic State] in Syria and the continuation of our cooperation with Iraqi Security Forces to ensure ISIS’ lasting defeat throughout the region,” he added.

His talks with Speaker Halbusi and members of the Council of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee “emphasized US support for the long-term bilateral partnership, anchored by the Strategic Framework Agreement and the necessity of supporting Iraq’s democratic institutions, economic development, energy independence, and sovereignty.

The meeting with President Salih focused more on Iraqi energy issues and the strategic partnership between Iraq and the US in the Middle East.

“The Secretary highlighted the resumption of oil exports via the Kirkuk oil pipeline and the importance of continued steps towards Iraq’s energy independence,” said Palladino.

“The two leaders also discussed the recent territorial defeat of ISIS and US support for Iraqi Security Forces to ensure ISIS’ lasting defeat.”

Pompeo is on a extensive tour of Middle Eastern capitals in an effort to reassure allies after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement that he will pull all 2,000 US troops from Syria.

The previously unannounced visit to Baghdad also comes after a rocky visit by Trump over Christmas.

After enduring nearly two years of criticism for not visiting US troops in a conflict zone, Trump visited with US forces for several hours at Al Asad Air Base, west of Baghdad. During the trip, however, he declined to meet with Iraqi officials, citing an inability to agree on a location.

Local politicians condemned the breach of protocol, saying that it constituted a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Weeks later, a visit by a US Marine general to Mutanabi Street in central Baghdad elicited similar criticism.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 6:11 pm EBL.

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Iraqi’s Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi (R) in Baghdad, Iraq, during a Middle East tour, January 9, 2019. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Iraqi’s President Barham Salih (R) in Baghdad, Iraq, during a Middle East tour, January 9, 2019. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim (R) in Baghdad, Iraq, during a Middle East tour, January 9, 2019. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS