US secretary of defense makes unannounced visit to Baghdad

TEHRAN, Mar. 07 (MNA) – US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Iraq Tuesday on an unannounced visit barely two weeks before the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion in 2003.

"I'm here to reaffirm the US-Iraq strategic partnership as we move toward a more secure, stable and sovereign Iraq," Austin tweeted as he landed in Baghdad, according to local US media.

Austin is the highest-ranking cabinet official to visit Iraq since the beginning of the Biden administration.

The stop was kept secret until he landed for security reasons.

He's in the midst of a multi-state visit to the region.

Austin's visit comes ahead of the March 20 anniversary of the ground invasion of Iraq by the United States army and its allies in 2003.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani stressed recently in an interview that Iraq does not need the combat forces of any country.

Iraq’s parliament passed a resolution calling for the removal of foreign troops from the country after the US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and a senior commander of an Iraqi PMU Abu Mahdi Muhandis in early 2020.


News Code 198227


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