TOKYO — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit Sunday to Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.
Blinken urged the Iraqi prime minister to hold accountable those responsible for continuing attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and fulfill Iraq’s commitments to protect all installations hosting U.S. personnel at the invitation of the Iraqi government.
U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked with drones or rockets in recent days, as more U.S. forces deploy to the Middle East to support regional deterrence efforts. U.S. military officials have blamed Iranian-backed proxies for the near-daily attacks on U.S. forces.
Blinken received a security briefing on the threat to U.S. facilities at the U.S. Embassy prior to his talks with al-Sudani, which lasted for more than an hour.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting Sunday, Blinken said al-Sudani is “working with his own security forces and others to take necessary action” to deal with attacks on U.S. forces and to prevent further attacks.
“This is a matter of Iraqi sovereignty. No country wants to have militia groups engaged in violent activity,” Blinken said at a news conference Sunday.
“We have a shared purpose and commitment in trying to make sure that these attacks don’t happen,” he added.
Al-Sudani has spoken out against those attacks. He reportedly will begin a regional tour to Iran and the Persian Gulf nations Monday.
Blinken and al-Sudani also discussed the need to prevent the conflict between Israel and Hamas from spreading, including in Iraq.
In a phone call on October 23, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin thanked al-Sudani for reaffirming the Iraqi government’s full commitment to protect U.S. forces in Iraq.
Earlier Sunday, Blinken held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in another unannounced visit to the West Bank, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance and resume essential services in Gaza as Israel’s war against Hamas intensifies.
Blinken told reporters that he and Abbas agreed that it is critical for the Palestinian Authority to play a leading role in the future of Gaza.
“With regard to [the] future of Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian views, Palestinian voices, Palestinian aspirations need to be at the center of that,” Blinken said Sunday. “The Palestinian Authority is the representative of those voices so it’s important that they play a leading role.”
The top U.S. diplomat was headed to Turkey, where he will hold talks with officials in Ankara.
Source : VOANews