Exclusive - US Concerned About Iran’s Efforts to Undermine Iraqi Sovereignty

Exclusive - US Concerned About Iran’s Efforts to Undermine Iraqi Sovereignty

Saturday, 3 February, 2018 - 09:00
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. AP file photo
Washington - Heba El Koudsy
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said that during his visit to Baghdad and Erbil last week, he urged both parties to reach an agreement on controversial issues such as the reopening of airports in Kurdistan to international flights and maintaining cooperation between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments.
 
Sullivan headed the US delegation to the fifth meeting of the US-Iraqi High Coordination Committee established under the Strategic Framework Agreement signed in December 2008.
 
On the same trip, the Secretary of State visited the Afghan capital Kabul, where he met with President Ashraf Ghani and several officials, and called for the improvement of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 
In a press briefing to a number of foreign media outlets, including Asharq Al-Awsat, Sullivan said that he had held fruitful meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and a number of Iraqi businessmen to discuss trade relations and economic development in Iraq.
 
In Erbil, he met with the Kurdistan region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, with whom he explored the means to bolster talks between the Kurdish government and the central government in Baghdad.
 
Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat on his assessment of the current situation between Erbil and Baghdad, the Deputy State Secretary said that in his discussion with Abadi in Baghdad and Barzani in Erbil, he stressed the need to resolve urgent problems before the elections on May 12, such as reopening airports in Iraqi Kurdistan for international flights and paying salaries of employees in some ministries of Kurdistan’s Government.
 
As for mounting concerns over the role of Shi’ite militias in Iraq, especially following the defeat of ISIS, Sullivan said despite Abadi’s announcement of victory over the terrorist organization on December 1, ISIS would always remain a problem, which cannot be disregarded.
 
He noted in this regard that the American and Iraqi governments were focusing on the security threats posed by ISIS in Iraq, underlining US concerns over Iran’s menacing influence in the region and in Iraq in particular.
 
“We expect Iraq to have a stable and respectable relationship with Iran, and we are concerned about Iran’s efforts to undermine Iraqi sovereignty,” he stated.
 
On a different note, Sullivan emphasized the need to maintain dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
 
He stressed that Washington would continue to put pressure on the Taliban to bring them to the negotiating table of an Afghan-led peace process.

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