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Trump didn’t meet Iraqi leadership during surprise visit due to ‘disagreements’

Trump didn’t meet Iraqi leadership during surprise visit due to ‘disagreements’
A meeting between US President Donald Trump, who made a surprise visit to Iraq, and the country’s leadership has been scrapped, after the sides failed to agree on how and where to organize the talks.

"A disagreement over how to conduct the meeting led to the meeting being replaced by a telephone conversation," said a statement from the Iraqi PM's office.

Trump and his wife Melania visited the Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, and spent three hours with US troops stationed there. The visit was unannounced and secret so closely kept that reporters who flew with them on board Air Force One were under strict embargo not to report on it until hours after the fact. Only the sighting of the presidential plane in the skies above Europe hinted that something might be afoot.

Also on rt.com No pullout of Iraq, it can be base ‘to do something in Syria’ – Trump on first visit to troops

His first presidential visit to the troops overseas followed Trump’s announcement that US forces would be withdrawing entirely from Syria and drastically reducing their presence in Afghanistan. The decision caused an uproar among both Democrats, Republicans and the US media, as well as the expedited resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

After the Iraqi government released its brief statement about the non-meeting, the same media outlets that blasted Trump for the decision to withdraw and condemned him for not visiting the troops – even as Air Force One was headed to Iraq – began to agonize over the supposed diplomatic incident.

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“To not meet with the prime minister of Iraq, it's extraordinary. There really is no other word for it,”argued CNN correspondent Nima Elbagir.

The current PM of Iraq, Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki, was sworn in on October 25, some five months after the 2018 parliamentary elections.

At the head of a “coalition of the willing,” the US illegally invaded Iraq in March 2003 and occupied the country, with the explicit purpose of overthrowing the government of Saddam Hussein. After years of bloody counter-insurgency warfare, the last US troops left Iraq in December 2011 – only to return three years later, as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) routed the US-backed Iraqi army and claimed large parts of the country’s territory.

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By the end of 2017, the Iraqi government had claimed victory over IS and the Pentagon said it would begin scaling back the presence of some 5,200 US troops in Iraq at the time. It is unclear how many US service members are currently in the country, but Trump said he did not intend to pull them out yet, in case “we wanted to do something in Syria."

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