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Pompeo cancels Germany trip because of "pressing issues"

Pompeo cancels Germany trip because of

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a surprise visit to Iraq to remind the country who its friends are, assuring Iraqi leaders the US is concerned about their "sovereignty" while warning them to steer clear of Iran - or else.

The United States announced Monday it was speeding up the arrival of a naval aircraft carrier strike group to the Arabian Sea and deploying a bomber task force in response to a potential Iranian threat.

In response to last month's US designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group, Iran responded by declaring the United States a state sponsor of terrorism and its forces in the Middle East as terror groups.

Pompeo said he had assured Iraqi officials that the United States stands ready to "continue to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation".

Also high on the agenda was the Iran nuclear deal, abandoned by Mr Trump a year ago.

On Wednesday, Iran announced it was relaxing curbs on its nuclear programme under the 2015 deal with world powers, and threatened to do more - including enriching uranium to a higher level - if other countries did not shield it from USA sanctions.

"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.

The State Department had previously said the visit to Germany was cancelled "due to more pressing issues", and the press traveling with Pompeo were not told where they were rerouting to.

USA sends naval strike group to Middle East in ‘message’ to Iran
US armed forces are deploying to forward positions in the Middle East, standing by to address a "credible threat" from Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that plans to deploy the strike group had been in the works for some time.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departing Rovaniemi, Finland, following the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council. Unless that independence involves Iraq making nice with Iran, that is, since his visit was prompted by "escalating activity" there, invisible to the naked eye but enough to provoke the deployment of a United States carrier strike group and bomber task force to the region.

The deployment was in response to "recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack U.S. forces", the Pentagon said.

The US has given little information about the exact nature of the reported threat, which Iran has dismissed as nonsense.

Iraq has a close relationship with the US, which is leading the global coalition in the war against the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

"We're working together to push back against that threat", Pompeo said at a press conference with Hunt. "Trump had created a freaky situation in which Iran was more sanctioned for abiding by an worldwide nuclear agreement than it was when the USA and the West accused it of violating one", he added.

"This would be an effort to take American forces out that continue our campaign against ISIS". "This is an obligation that Iraq honors", he said.

The secretary told reporters on the flight that his meetings with Iraq's president and prime minister were meant to demonstrate USA support for "a sovereign, independent" Iraq, free from the influence of neighboring Iran.

Pompeo also said spoke to Iraqi officials about their energy and infrastructure needs, especially in the electricity, oil and natural gas sectors.