Published: Sat, May 11, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Salih, Pompeo stress waiver extension for Iran energy

Salih, Pompeo stress waiver extension for Iran energy

The top U.S. diplomat met with Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi, President Barham Salih and other officials while on the ground in the Iraqi capital in a roughly four-hour visit, according to the pool traveling with Pompeo.

The trip took place under high security and great secrecy, with pool reporters not told of Pompeo's destination until the plane took off, and forbidden from reporting his whereabouts until the flight out of Iraq was wheels-up.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made a surprise visit to Iraq, after cancelling planned talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Pompeo did not shy away from describing USA policy as a "maximum pressure" approach to Iran, highlighting efforts to block Tehran's oil sales and implementing other sanctions.

"No leader from a country with Western democratic values ought to stand behind them".

Pompeo spent Wednesday in London where he discussed the tensions with Iran and delivered remarks on religious freedom, one of his key priorities. Yet, he confirmed the USA is "fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces".

Pompeo's trip to Iraq came amid news that Iran plans to announce it will reduce its commitments to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - one year after the U.S. announced its departure from the landmark nuclear deal.

With the imposition of USA sanctions, Iran has grown increasingly frustrated that it has not seen the fruits of the agreement, with which United Nations inspectors say it is complying.

"I guess you could say that always, right?"

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Pompeo told reporters that he wanted to stress U.S. support for "a sovereign, independent" Iraq, a country that would likely prove a linchpin in any potential conflict with Iran.

Pompeo said China steals sensitive intellectual property and sensitive commercial data in Europe, Asia, and the United States, and singled out Huawei. This was just three days after the US announced the dispatch of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and US Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf region to threaten Iran. "Since our exit from the Iran deal, which is broken beyond fix, the United States has put forward 12 conditions that offer the basis of a comprehensive agreement with Iran".

Iraq has a close relationship with the USA, which is leading the worldwide coalition in the war against the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

Pompeo has instead touted the United States's reduction in carbon emissions, saying Monday between 2006 and 2017, USA emissions fell 14% "through scientific work, through technology, through building out safe and secure energy infrastructure, and through our economic growth, and doing it in a way that doesn't stifle development with burdensome regulations that only create more risk to the environment".

But Iraq is also tightly enmeshed with Iran in trade, security and political matters, and it has been loath to antagonize its larger neighbour.

Pompeo had earlier dismissed as unfounded the idea that British-U.S. ties were on the decline.

Iraq has extensive ties with Iran that go back generations and Iran backs some Iraqi militias.

According to pool reports from press traveling with Pompeo, the secretary of state met in separate meetings with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. "This is an obligation that Iraq honors", he said.

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