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Top Iraqi diplomat in Iran after US Embassy warning

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein hlds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on September 17, 2020. [Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein hlds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on September 17, 2020. [Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency]

Iraq’s foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Saturday morning for a two-day visit of wide-ranging talks in the wake of the US warning it might close its Baghdad embassy due to threats, including from Iranian-backed militias, Anadolu Agency reports.

Iraq’s Fuad Hussein and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif discussed bilateral relations, including the implementation of agreements reached during Iraqi Prime Minister Mostafa al-Kazimi’s visit to Tehran in July.

According to diplomatic sources, regional developments figured prominently in the talks between the two officials, including the security situation in Iraq and a string of attacks on US forces.

The visit comes after the US threatened to close its embassy in Baghdad if the Iraqi government fails to take action against militia groups targeting US forces in Iraq.

READ: Iran official dismisses US sanctions against judges, courts

Iraqi media reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dispatched a letter of warning to Iraqi President Barham Salih threatening to close its diplomatic mission in Baghdad.

The letter warned that the US will “liquidate” those responsible for attacking US interests in Iraq, referring to militia groups like Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, both backed by Iran.

The US also reportedly threatened to withhold aid to Iraq from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, besides sanctions, if the US Embassy is forced to close.

Taken aback by the letter, sources said Hussein came to Tehran with a message that Iran should use its influence over these groups to prevent further attacks on US forces.

Hussein’s visit to Tehran comes after Salih convened a meeting with the leaders of various political factions and told them about the US letter.

READ: France summoned Iranian envoy over human rights

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