US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Baghdad late Tuesday on an unannounced visit, an Iraqi government source said, canceling a trip to Germany amid escalating US-Iran tensions.
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 USA. support for "a sovereign, independent" Iraq, free from the influence of neighboring Iran, AP reported.
Speaking after the meetings, Pompeo told reporters that he made the surprise visit to Iraq because Iran "is escalating their activity" in the region following the USA move to ban Iranian oil exports.
The visit comes as the U.S.is stepping up pressure on Iraq's larger neighbor, Iran, and claiming that Iran could be planning threats against USA forces in the region. The deployment was in response to "recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack United States forces", the Pentagon said.
Wednesday marks a year since the Trump administration pulled the US out of the nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers. "In each of those meetings, those two leaders promised that that was their objective, too, they were moving towards that goal", he said.
Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, whose foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, had also been set to meet Pompeo in Nuuk.
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Iraq's majority Shiite population enjoys religious kinship with Iran, which played a significant role in helping Baghdad to fight the Islamic State extremist movement.
The visit came days after a USA aircraft carrier was deployed to the region, which officials said was in response to threats to USA forces and its allies from Iran.
The "campaign to continue to prevent ISIS terror inside of Iraq itself is something that's very central.to the Iraqi government", Pompeo said. More than 5,000 USA troops are stationed on Iraqi soil. "This is an obligation that Iraq would honour, (and) not accept any attack on anyone whether Iraqi, foreigner, whether it's an embassy or a company or a military mission", he said.
Iran, meanwhile, was expected to announced Wednesday that it would partially withdraw from the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015. 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.
With the imposition of USA sanctions, Iran has grown increasingly frustrated that it has not seen the fruits of the agreement, with which United Nations inspectors say it is complying.