US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: AFP/Jim Watson
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thought to be behind the bold move. Photo: AFP/Jim Watson

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad late Tuesday, according to an Iraqi government source, canceling a trip to Germany as US-Iran tensions escalate.

The source, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity because of the high-security nature of the visit, said Pompeo was set to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.

The visit comes two days after Washington announced it was sending an aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Persian Gulf to send a “clear and unmistakable” message to Iran.

Pompeo had been en route to Germany but unexpectedly canceled the trip due to “pressing issues,” the State Department said.

But in response to a question about alleged threats from Iran or its proxies on American forces in Iraq, the top US diplomat referred to both Iraq and Jordan.

“As secretary of state, I have a responsibility to keep the officers that work for me safe each and every day all around the world. That includes in Erbil and Baghdad, in our facilities in Amman, all around the Middle East,” he said.

“And so any time we receive threat reporting, things that raise concerns, we do everything… that we can to make sure that those planned or contemplated attacks don’t take place, and to make sure that we’ve got the right security posture,” he said.

Pompeo had been traveling from Finland, where he had attended a meeting of the Arctic Council.

He was due to meet both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas later Tuesday in Germany.

– with reporting by AFP

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