US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unscheduled, fleeting visit to Iraq, amid growing tensions with Iran. Mike Pompeo on Tuesday suddenly cancelled talks in Berlin, Germany to meet Iraqi leaders during a four-hour stop in the capital Baghdad where he met both President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Pompeo told the leaders that “the US doesn't want anybody interfering in their country", and asked them to protect US troops in Iraq. He said, "They both provided assurances that they understood that was their responsibility."
In a brief statement, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim said the talks focused on "bilateral ties, the latest security developments in the region and anti-terrorism efforts".
Pompeo said he made the trip because Iranian forces are "escalating their activity" and said the threat of attacks were "very specific".
In the latest US move, the Pentagon said, it was sending several massive, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the region.
On Sunday, NSA John Bolton said the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force were being deployed to the US Central Command region to send "a clear and unmistakable message" to Tehran that any attack on US interests or on its allies' will be met with "unrelenting force".
The rising tensions are playing out one year after the US unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, under which Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
The Trump administration has restored US sanctions and extended them, effectively ordering countries around the world to stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
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