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Iraq PM Abadi's office criticises Tillerson comments about Iran-backed militias

© Alex Brandon/Pool/AFP | Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (C) speaks during a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Bilateral Coordination Council in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 22, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-10-23

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s media office expressed surprise on Monday at comments by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson regarding Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilisation paramilitary units.

“No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters,” Abadi’s media office said in a statement citing a source close to the prime minister. Tillerson said on Sunday it was time for Iranian-backed militias and their Iranian advisers who helped Iraq defeat Islamic State (IS) group to “go home”.

Tillerson had taken the Trump administration's case for isolating and containing Iran in the Middle East and beyond to two Gulf Arab nations on Sunday, pushing for Saudi Arabia and Iraq to unite to counter growing Iranian assertiveness. He also called for a quick resolution to the ongoing crisis between Qatar and its Arab neighbors, which he said was unintentionally bolstering Iran.

In Saudi Arabia and later Qatar, Tillerson denounced Iran's "malign behaviour" and urged nations of the region and elsewhere, notably Europe, to join the administration to halt any business they do with Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard. He also demanded that Iranian and Iran-backed Shiite militia in Iraq either return to their homes, integrate into the Iraqi army or leave the country.

"Those fighters need to go home," Tillerson said. "Any foreign fighters need to go home."

Iranian militias in Iraq should 'go home' - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

In Riyadh for the inaugural meeting of the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Council   a vehicle that US officials believe can wean Iraq from Iran   Tillerson told Saudi King Salman and the Iraqi prime minister that the nascent partnership between their countries held great promise for Iraq's reconstruction after devastating battles to wrest territory from the IS group and its independence from foreign influence.

"We believe this will in some ways counter some of the unproductive influences of Iran inside of Iraq," he said at a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir after the council meeting.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-10-23

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