Wednesday , February 20 2019

US nudges Riyadh, Baghdad against Iran – Iran militants must leave Iraq: Tillerson

Saudi King Salman (center), Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (left), and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are seated during a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Bilateral Coordination Council on Oct 22, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)

DOHA, Qatar, Oct 22, (Agencies): US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday pressed the Trump administration’s case for isolating and containing Iran in the Middle East and beyond as he pushed for Saudi Arabia and Iraq to unite in common cause to counter growing Iranian assertiveness. He called for the removal of Iranian and Iranian-supported militias from Iraq and urged other countries, particularly in Europe, to halt any business they do with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Shortly before leaving Riyadh for Doha, Qatar, Tillerson told reporters that an independent and prosperous Iraq would be a foil to Iran’s “malign behavior.” “We believe this will in some ways counter some of the unproductive influences of Iran inside of Iraq,” he said at a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir after participating in the inaugural meeting of the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Council with Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi, Tillerson. Referring to Shiite militia in Iraq that are backed by Iran he said: “Those fighters need to go home. Any foreign fighters need to go home.”

Tillerson said countries outside of the region could also play a role, primarily by shunning the powerful Revolutionary Guards, which play a major role in Iran’s economy and were added to a US terrorism blacklist earlier this month. Companies and countries that do business with the guards “really do so at great risk,” he said.

“We are hoping that European companies, countries and others around the world will join the US as we put in place a sanctions structure to prohibit certain activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that foment instability in the region and create destruction in the region,” Tillerson said.

Earlier, at the coordination council meeting, Tillerson told the Saudi king and Abadi that the event

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