Salih insists on extending Iranian energy waivers in talks with Pompeo

11 May, 2019, 03:54 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Mike Pompeo takes part in the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Rovaniemi Finland

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made an unannounced visit to Iraq. "They understood, too, it's important for their country". Details released by the United States, however, did not make it clear whether he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi during his short visit here. "We're taking every action to deter them", he said. The top United States diplomat's unannounced visit marked an effort to stand up Washington's ties with Baghdad as it pushes ahead with its "maximum pressure" against Tehran a U.S. arch-rival, but an ally of Iraq.

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. The US military said on Tuesday B-52 bombers would be part of additional forces being sent to the Middle East to counter what the administration of US President Donald Trump says is "clear indications" of threats from Iran to US forces there.

The "campaign to continue to prevent ISIS terror inside of Iraq itself is something that's very central ... to the Iraqi government", Pompeo said.

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 U.S. interests.

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

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But Iraq is also tightly enmeshed with Iran in trade, security and political matters, and it has been loath to antagonize its larger neighbour.

Iraq has extensive ties with Iran that go back generations and Iran backs some Iraqi militias.

The Trump administration has made several recent moves to squeeze Iran.

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. 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. The Trump administration hopes to compel Iran to negotiate a "new deal" that would cover not only its nuclear activities, but also its ballistic missile programme and what officials call its "malign behaviour" across the Middle East.

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