US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Bilateral Coordination Council with Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – US Secretary of State has called for Iranian “militias” to leave Iraq.
"Certainly Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fighting against (ISIS) is coming to a close, those militias need to go home," Rex Tillerson said at a press conference in Riyadh.
"All foreign fighters need to go home."
Tillerson is in Riyadh for the inaugural Coordination Council meeting
between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was also in Riyadh.
Kurds have condemned Iranian involvement in recent clashes between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the disputed areas.
Iran supports Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary, a Shiite force that was officially brought under federal control last year. Iran’s Quds commander Qassem Soleimani is a military advisor to the force, an Iraqi government spokesperson confirmed. CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated that he was aware Soleimani had been seen
on the ground in Kirkuk.
A senior member of Iran's Expediency Council, Ali Akbar Velayati, rejected the notion that the Islamic Republic assisted Baghdad in their takeover of Kirkuk.
"Iran has no role in the Kirkuk operation," Iran's Tasnim news reported Velayati as telling reporters after meeting with a French diplomat in Tehran last week.
The Peshmerga have also claimed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) took part in clashes over Pirde
(Altun Kupri) on Friday.
Angry Kurds protested in front of the Iranian consulate in Erbil on Friday, taking down the Iranian flag
Egyptian PM supports federal steps taken by Baghdad
After leaving Riyadh, Abadi, who is on a Middle East jaunt discussing relations with other Arab nation leaders, traveled to Egypt.
He was received by Egyptian President Abdelfattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Sunday evening. The two discussed victories over ISIS, Iraqi unity, bilateral relations, and Iraq's vision for the future of the region.
"[Mr. El-Sisi] stressed that Egypt had been and still continues supporting Iraq in its war against terrorism and supports the steps taken by the Iraqi government to implementing federal authority," stated a readout of the meeting from Abadi's office.
Baghdad has said it will “redeploy” its federal forces throughout all of Iraq, including in the Kurdistan Region. Erbil has called the move an invasion.
The Arab Republic of Egypt has a consulate general office in the regional capital of Erbil.
Egypt had no immediate readout of the meeting.
Abadi emphasized the need to strengthen relations between the two countries "based on development and security instead of differences and wars."
Abadi has continued his Arab state visits with stop in Amman. He arrived in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Sunday night, his office confirmed.
Last updated at 9:55 pm