By

Don Jacobson
The office of the Iraqi prime minister said Mahdi advised the Trump administration to plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, which have been in Iraq since 2003. File Photo by Spc. Middleton/U.S. Army National Guard/UPI

The office of the Iraqi prime minister said Mahdi advised the Trump administration to plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, which have been in Iraq since 2003. File Photo by Spc. Middleton/U.S. Army National Guard/UPI
Jan. 10 (UPI) — Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi wants U.S. President Donald Trump‘s chief diplomat to send a team to Iraq and come up with a plan to withdraw American troops from the Middle Eastern nation, Mahdi’s office said Friday.

The prime minister’s office said Mahdi asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call Thursday to send delegates to “lay down the mechanisms” for safely withdrawing troops from Iraq, where the American military has had a presence for more than 15 years.

Mahdi’s office referred to a non-binding resolution that was unanimously passed by Iraqi lawmakers last weekend, which calls for the government to end the “presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil.”

The vote, which was boycotted by Sunni Arab and Kurdish lawmakers, followed a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad that killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and the leader of an Iraqi militia allied with Iran.

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During his conversation with Pompeo, Mahdi rejected “all operations that violate [Iraq’s] sovereignty,” including Iranian missile attacks on Wednesday that targeted two U.S. bases in Iraq, his office said. He also lodged a complaint about U.S. forces and drones entering Iraq “without permission.”

Iraq’s description of Mahdi’s call with Pompeo differed from a readout supplied by by the U.S. State Department — which makes no mention of a request for a U.S. withdrawal or troop movements, CBS News reported Friday.

Trump has threatened to sanction Iraq economically if it asks for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

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“We’ve spent a lot of money in Iraq,” he said last weekend. “We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday the United States hasn’t decided whether to recall troops from Iraq. His remarks followed reports of a U.S. Army memo that told Baghdad American troops were preparing for an exit.