The State Department on Friday rebuffed the Iraqi government’s request to begin discussions on pulling out troops, saying that any American officials going to Baghdad during a state of heightened tensions would not discuss a “troop withdrawal,” as the Iraqi prime minister had requested. Instead, discussions would be about the “appropriate force posture in the Middle East.”
The statement from Washington was a direct rebuttal to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq, and was certain to add to the friction between the two nations.
The prime minister said earlier on Friday that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to send a delegation from the United States to discuss steps for the withdrawal of the approximately 5,200 American troops from his country, in the aftermath of a deadly American military strike ordered by President Trump that many Iraqis say violated their country’s sovereignty.
“We are happy to continue the conversation with the Iraqis about what the right structure is,” Mr. Pompeo said at a news conference after the State Department had made its announcement. He stressed that the mission of the United States in Iraq was to train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State, and “we’re going to continue that mission.”