U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled a planned trip to Germany to fly to Iraq and meet Iraqi leaders amid rising tensions with Iran.
Iraqi leaders promised to ensure the safety of US interests amid rising tensions with Iran, the secretary of state said Tuesday on the surprise visit.
Pompeo met both President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.
"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 the meetings.
"They both provided assurances that they understood that was their responsibility," he said.
Pompeo said he made the trip to Iraq because Iran "is escalating their activity," although he declined to discuss intelligence in detail.
Later CNN reported that according to several U.S. officials, Iran was suspected of moving missiles on boats in the Persian Gulf, raising the alarm level in Washington, which led to the deployment of USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52 bombers to the region and a warning to Iran not to make any provocative moves.
"We wanted to let them know about the increased threat stream that we had seen and give them a little bit more background on that so they could ensure that they were doing all they could to provide protection for our team," Pompeo said.
The tensions come a year after President Donald Trump exited a nuclear deal with Iran and instead launched an aggressive campaign to counter the clerical regime.