US rejects Iraq’s request to discuss pulling out its 5,200 troops
BAGHDAD: The United States has rejected a request by Iraq to start talks on pulling out its 5,200 troops.
The State Department spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus said in a statement the US was ready for “a conversation” but not about removing troops.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters the US mission in Iraq was “very clear” training local forces and fighting the Islamic State militants.
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to send a delegation to begin withdrawal arrangements.
The Iraqi leadership seems angry over the killing of top Iranian general in its territory.
Morgan Ortagus has described US military “a force for good.” She said America wanted to make friends with Iraq for its sovereignty, prosperity and stability.
US President Donald Trump, who has earlier expressed dissent to the invasion of Iraq and described it as a wasteful act, has also threatened Iraq of sanctions over trying to expel the American forces from its soil.
On Jan 6, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper had said his country has no plans to pull its troops out of Iraq.
Responding to a letter informing Iraqi officials about the repositioning of troops in preparation to leave the country, he had said the message was sent by “mistake”. He had said that there had been no decision whatsoever to leave.
Earlier, the head of the US military’s Task Force in Iraq, Brigadier General William Seely had informed his Iraqi counterparts in a letter that troops were preparing to leave the country after Iraqi parliament had called for them to leave by passing a resolution.
On Jan 6, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres had expressed his deep concern over the deteriorating situation of Middle East and called on parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint to stop escalation of global tensions.