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The visit came two days after U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the United States was deploying the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force to the region because of a "credible threat by Iranian regime forces."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Baghdad Tuesday in order to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the Reuters News Agency reported. This unannounced meeting came just two days after U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the American Navy was sending the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to deal with the "Iranian threat".
The concern about a threat from Iranian forces comes after Washington has ramped up sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program in recent months and designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group.
"We talked to them about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it's able to adequately protect Americans in their country," Pompeo told reporters after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Pompeo said the purpose of the meeting also was to let Iraqi officials know more about "the increased threat stream that we had seen" so they could effectively protect U.S. forces.
Pompeo said he expressed U.S. support for Iraqi sovereignty, noting, "We don’t want anyone interfering in their country, certainly not by attacking another nation inside of Iraq."
Despite Pompeo's attempts to persuade Iraq to cutoff ties with their neighbor to the east, Baghdad has remained neutral and maintains diplomatic and economic relations with Tehran.
In the meantime, Iran has been actively working with allies like Russia and China to find a solution to the U.S.' attempts to block their oil trade.
The Iranian government hinted on Tuesday that they were in the process of halting their commitments to the nuclear deal that was established under the Obama administration.