US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at the U.S. State Department March 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended his country's foreign policy in Iraq, urging the Senate quickly to confirm the administration’s pick for ambassador, Matthew Tueller.
"I think we’re making progress on developing a strong, independent, sovereign Iraq, but there is no doubt Iran has its eyes set on taking control of that country," he said
on Fox TV.
Pompeo rebutted a question on senate criticism regarding the lack of US diplomatic policy in Iraq.
"I disagree fundamentally. I know precisely what the diplomatic game is there, and if the Senate will confirm my ambassador, we’ll step it up even more," he added.
Tueller was nominated
in November, but is yet to be nominated by the Senate. He testified
before the Foreign Relations Committee on March 6. The hearings are often a test of the president and secretary of state's foreign policy.
Pompeo urged for continued US support in Iraq without Iranian interference.
"I don’t think that’s good for the Iraqi people, I know it’s not good for the United States of America, and we’re going to continue to do the CT [counter-terrorism] fight there and stand up an Iraqi Government that’s free and less involved with what’s going on in Iran," he added.
David Peyman, the deputy assistant secretary of state for counter threat finance and sanctions, cautioned
last week that more sanctions against Iran are coming.
Iranian Ayatollah Emami Kashani, a member of the Assembly of Experts, claimed that the United States has been defeated in Iraq and Syria.
“Among the emphasis by the dear Leader of the Revolution in the meeting with the members of the Assembly of Experts, the Leader noted that the enemy is busy and with all power is seeking to exert maximum pressure on Iran, we should also apply the maximum facilities to counteract against the enemy," state-run IRNA quoted
him as saying.
"When the enemy uses his maximum facilities to press the country in sanctions, we must also have the facilities and we should find ways to cope with these problems," he added.
Pompeo will make a three-day visit to Kuwait, Israel, and Lebanon this week.
It follows a visit last week by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Iraq.