US secretary of state pays unscheduled visit to Iraq

By Jeyhun Aliyev

ANKARA (AA) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid an unscheduled visit to Iraq on Tuesday after canceling an official trip to Germany at the last minute.

Pompeo met with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali al-Hakim said on Twitter.

Bilateral relations, the latest developments in regional security and counter-terrorism efforts were discussed during the meeting, he added.

The issue of Iraq's exemption from U.S. sanctions against Iran was also addressed.

Pompeo’s visit came a day after the U.S. said Iran posed a growing threat to its forces and interests in the Middle East and two days after National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group along with a bomber task force were being deployed to the U.S. Central Command region to send "a clear and unmistakable message" to Tehran.

The move by Washington is the latest in a series of actions to assert pressure on Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in November after Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal between Tehran, Washington and five other countries.