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6 Jan, 2020 17:18

‘We are trying to prevent open war,’ Iraqi PM tells US ambassador as tensions mount

‘We are trying to prevent open war,’ Iraqi PM tells US ambassador as tensions mount

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has told US ambassador Matthew Tueller that Baghdad is doing all it can to prevent “descent into open war” as tensions flare over the US killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

Speaking at a meeting with Tueller in the Iraqi capital on Monday, Abdul-Mahdi said his government's policy has “always been to have relations with all sides.” He said Iraq wants to build its relations with other countries on “cooperation, mutual respect, and protection of foreign sovereignty,” adding that a strong Iraqi government is in “everyone's interest” in the region.

The PM also "stressed the importance of mutual cooperation" on implementing foreign troop withdrawal, according to a statement released by his office.

Also on rt.com Trump threatens Iraq with ‘very big sanctions’ unless it pays back BILLIONS for an airbase if US troops are forced to withdraw

The meeting comes after US President Donald Trump warned Iraq that it should brace for “very big” sanctions “like they've never seen before.”

That warning followed the passing of a non-binding resolution in the Iraqi parliament on Sunday asking the government to expel foreign troops by canceling a request for military assistance from the US-led coalition. On Monday, Abdul-Mahdi said the US and Iraq must also work together to implement the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. 

Trump has claimed the US will not leave Iraq unless Baghdad “pays it back” for the “extraordinarily expensive” air base which it built there.

Tensions have mounted between Washington and Baghdad since the drone strike which killed Soleimani along with several Iraqi militia leaders last week, provoking rage in Tehran and the promise of revenge against the US.

Also on rt.com Iran holds all the cards in coming Middle East conflict with US, unless Trump is ready to drop a tactical NUKE

The anger in Iraq, however, has mostly been over the fact that the US strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a high-ranking Iraqi general, Saad Al-Muttalibi, a member of Baghdad Security Committee, told RT.

Asked about Trump's threat to impose sanctions on Iraq, Al-Muttalibi said Iraqis "have to be worried" and can't trust Trump's "good intentions." If the US does impose sanctions, Iraq will need to look for "more suitable partners" than those who "come to Iraq, kill Iraqi citizens, use Iraqi airspace and Iraq ground to kill Iraqi officials," he said.

Speaking about the Iraqi parliament's resolution asking the government to expel foreign forces, he warned that it's "very important for the Americans to pull out [of Iraq]" because "we don't want to be drawn into a war between Iran and America on Iraqi soil."

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