Iraqi PM sheds light on Trump visit after criticism
Monday, 31 December 2018
Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has given explanations on a sneak trip by US President Donald Trump to a military base near Baghdad last week, which angered Iraqis.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has given explanations on a sneak trip by US President Donald Trump to a military base near Baghdad last week, which angered Iraqis.
Abdul-Mahdi on Sunday stressed that the visit had taken place with the prior notice of the Iraqi government and that the al-Asad Air Base at which Trump arrived Wednesday night was "100% an Iraqi base".
Trump's two-hour sojourns at the base, stopping short of a visit to Baghdad, drew criticism from Iraqi lawmakers who have demanded US troops be expelled in response to what they believe was an unannounced trip.
Abdul-Mahdi dismissed that, saying the Americans had in fact "informed us the same morning of the day on which Trump was about to visit Iraq and we welcomed it."
However, "we put forth two preconditions: one being that he must come like any foreign dignitary, with official welcoming and meetings being included and the other, a few limited subjects be specified for negotiations given the briefness of the visit."
The Americans, however, said Trump did not plan to go anywhere other than the base, to which "we also announced that there would be no possibility for the prime minister and the accompanying delegation to go to the Ayn al-Asad base."
According to Abdul-Mahdi, the Americans said the schedule was impossible to change, proposing a phone discussion between the two leaders.
"Iraq's dealing of the US president's visit was based on a principled policy rooted in the will of Baghdad and respect for friendly relations between the two sides," he said.
"Some people are talking about the the existence of a status of forces agreement or SOFA between the United States and Iraq, while we do not have such an agreement with the United States or with any other country on the basis of which the head of a government or commander of the armed forces can visit their base on Iraqi soil [without coordination or permit]," he added.
Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi also touched on the presence of US troops in his country, saying they were there on the request of the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi premier, however, rejected the presence of American bases in Iraq. "Some people have said Tramp came to an American military base in Iraq, but that is not the case.
"The United States has no military bases in Iraq. All the military bases are Iraqi. However, American and non-American forces have a presence in some sections of these bases," he added.