US and European countries scale back presence in Iraq amid Iran tensions

A German military advisor at the military camp of Mirra on the outskirts of Erbil, northern Iraq. (AFP/ File photo)
Updated 16 May 2019
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US and European countries scale back presence in Iraq amid Iran tensions

  • US orders departure of “non-emergency government employees”
  • Germany is suspending military training operations in Iraq due to increasing regional tensions

ERBIL: The US State Department on Wednesday ordered the departure of “non-emergency government employees” from Iraq, the US embassy in Baghdad said in a statement.
Referring to the embassy and the US consulate in Erbil, it said “normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq.”
The statement recommended those affected “depart by commercial transportation as soon as possible.”

The US embassies in Lebanon, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates also warned American citizens of heightened tensions in the region amid escalation with Iran.
In advisories issued Wednesday, the embassies advised Americans to maintain a "high level of vigilance" and keep a low profile. The embassy in the central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, on Iran's northeast borders, issued similar warnings.

Meanwhile, Germany is suspending military training operations in Iraq due to increasing regional tensions, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.
Germany has indications of potential attacks supported by Iran, he said, adding that this did not mean the training programmes could not resume in the coming days.
Focus Online said the decision had been taken in coordination with partner countries fighting Daesh in the region.

The Dutch government also suspended a mission in Iraq that provides assistance to local authorities due to a security threat, Dutch news agency ANP reported on Wednesday.
Dutch military personal help train Iraqi forces in Erbil, northern Iraq, along with other foreign troops.
The report gave no details about the nature of the threat.

 


Iranian FM in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart as part of regional tour

Updated 50 min 26 sec ago
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Iranian FM in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart as part of regional tour

  • During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister
  • Discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries

BAGHDAD: Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif landed in Baghdad on Saturday for talks with his Iraqi counterpart, an Arab News reporter confirmed.

During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister. On Sunday morning, Zarif will meet several senior politicians before he heads to Najaf to meet some clerics, sources told Arab News.

The discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries in addition to possible options to reinforce the attempts to start dialogues with the related sides to reach a compromise or solutions for the current standoff between Iran and US.

The Iranian official will leave Iraq on Monday. Zarif's tour will also include trips to Turkey, India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi will begin a separate tour on Sunday which will see him visit Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, according to Iranian news sources.