Pompeo in Baghdad on unannounced visit
Baghdad: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Wednesday to meet Iraqi leaders as a part of an extensive tour of the Middle East in a bid to reassure its allies of Washington’s commitment to the region, Iraqi state television reported.
Pompeo’s trip came after US President Donald Trump announced in December a pullout of the US troops from Syria, a move that led to the resignation of his Defence Secretary James Mattis.
Al-Iraqiya channel said Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbusi welcomed Pompeo in Baghdad and the US official was expected to meet Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and other top officials.
Trump surprised the US forces stationed in Iraq with a visit on December 26, but left without meeting any Iraqi officials. Mahdi then said that a planned meeting with the US President was cancelled over disagreements and replaced by a telephone conversation.
Pompeo started his tour in Jordan on Tuesday and is scheduled to visit Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, Efe news reported.
During the first leg of his visit, Pompeo claimed the withdrawal of the US forces from Syria would not impact the fight against the Islamic State terror organization and pledged to double the pressure on Iran.