Pledging continued US support, Pompeo calls on Iraq to target pro-Iran militias

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledges the Trump administration will continue to support Iraq as it confronts the threat posed by the Islamic State jihadist group, but he also calls for the Baghdad government to redouble efforts to rein in pro-Iran militias.

Pompeo says the United States is committed to helping Iraq regain and maintain security, despite US President Donald Trump’s oft-stated desire to reduce and then eliminate the American troop presence there. Pompeo speaks after talks with senior Iraqi officials and a day before a White House meeting between Trump and Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi,

“There is still work to do,” Pompeo tells reporters at a State Department news conference with Iraq’s foreign minister Fuad Hussein. “Armed groups not under the full control of the prime minister have impeded our progress. Those groups need to be replaced by local police as soon as possible. I assured Dr. Fuad that we could help and we would help.”

Pompeo declines to discuss possible future American troop withdrawals. But he says the US will not stop supporting Iraq’s security forces in their bid to defeat the Islamic State group, which is also known as ISIS, and “to curb the power of militias that have for far long terrorized the Iraqi people and undermined Iraq’s national sovereignty.”

The foreign minister calls the talks “good and important” and says the Iraqi government believes in the importance of its partnership with the United States.

“We are both in the same trench of fighting ISIS and we are still in the same trench and we will work together to defeat the terrorist elements,” he says. “We see that the United States of America is a strong ally and a strong ally of Iraq and we will continue to protect that alliance.”

— AP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, left, walk off of the stage together following a news conference at the State Department in Washington on August 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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