From the Ground: Pompeo Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq Amid Iran Escalation

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Posted: May 07, 2019 5:11 PM
From the Ground: Pompeo Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq Amid Iran Escalation

*Click here to follow Katie's trip with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo*

BAGHDAD -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise trip to Baghdad Tuesday night, standing in solidarity with the Iraqi government against escalating tensions with Iran. Due to security issues, reporters traveling with Pompeo were told to hold off on confirmation of location until leaving the country.

“The reason we’re going is, you’ve all seen the reports that there have been escalating, information that Iran is escalating their activity. I wanted to go to Baghdad to speak with leadership there to assure them that we stood ready to continue to make sure Iraq was a sovereign and independent nation and that the United States would continue to build up partners in the region. The Jordanians, the Saudis the Emirates, all of the Gulf States want to see a free, independent, sovereign Iraq. So that’s the primary mission set,” Pompeo told reporters on the plane enroute, adding there are a number of business deals pending that also need to be discussed.

Pompeo said American support of Iraqi security forces will continue and the U.S. stands ready to make sure the new government is steady and strong. During the stop, Pompeo traveled to two different locations and met with Iraqi officials. The first meeting was with Iraqi Prime Minsiter Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Muhammed Ali al-Hakim, Head of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraqi Chief of Defense sLTG Othman Al-Ghanimi, Prime Minister Advisors Abdul-Kareem Hashim and Muhammed Abdul-Hadi Al-Hakim. The second meeting was with Iraqi President Barham Salih, in addition to Minister of Foreign Affairs Muhammed Ali al-Hakim, DG of the Presidency Foreign Policy Krekor and a note taker.

Intelligence reportedly relayed by Israeli security forces to the United States late last week shows Iran planning an attack on American interests. The White House responded by saying Iran will face “unrelenting force” for any attack carried through.

When asked about the security situation of the Iraqi government, Pompeo said it is stable and simply being reinforced.

“I spoke to the President last night and told him I was heading to Iraq,” Pompeo said. “He asked me to obviously communicate of messages on his behalf but the central message is this: we want to make sure that Iraq is positioned so the relationship we’ve built with them and our allies in the region have built with them, allies that range all across the Gulf, who understand that the primary threat in the Middle East is Iran, remain strong and those relationship remain strong.”

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“There’s a long history in Iraq and we want them to be successful, in dependent and have sovereignty and not be beholden to any country,” Pompeo continued.

During his remarks to reporters, Pompeo also commented on indications Iran will be restarting its nuclear program and complying with only parts of the Iran Nuclear Agreement moving forward.

“This is binary,” Pompeo said. “You’re either in compliance, or you’re not. We’ll obviously have to wait and see what they choose to do.”

Tuesday morning, the State Department announced Pompeo’s planned trip to Berlin had been canceled due to “pressing issues.” A planned meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be rescheduled at a later date.