Pompeo affirms support for Iraq, stresses ‘obligation’ to U.S. forces

US Secretary Pompeo
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U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, reaffirmed Washington’s support for Iraq in a phone call with Prime Minister-designate, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi while stressing Iraq’s “obligation” to protect U.S. coalition forces there, the State Department said.

Pompeo pointed to Iraq’s obligation to protect U.S. and coalition diplomats, forces and facilities, according to the statement issued by spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

Baghdad’s Green Zone, home to foreign embassies and government offices, has seen several attacks in recent months amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to the presence of foreign troops linked to the U.S.-led alliance fighting Islamic State.

There are currently around 5,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq.

Pompeo and Allawi also discussed “the urgency with which Iraq’s next government must put an end to the killing of protesters, seek justice for those killed and wounded, and address their legitimate grievances’’.

Street protests have roiled Iraq since early October, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament and an overhaul of the country’s political system, which has been in place since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Repeated reform pledges from the country’s politicians have failed to assuage the predominantly young protesters.

On Feb. 1, Iraqi President Barham Salih tasked Allawi, the former communications minister, with forming a government.

Allawi must form the government within a month.

Iraq’s major political forces struggled for months to agree on a successor to embattled Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi.