Acting US defense secretary visits Iraq for troop talks

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan arrived in Iraq on Tuesday for an unscheduled visit for talks with Iraqi officials.

Shanahan will meet senior government officials, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to discuss issues of mutual interest, including the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and U.S. military pullout from Syria, a source with the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump said U.S. troops in Iraq were needed to observe Iran.

Washington has around 5,200 troops in Iraq to provide training to Iraqi forces.

Tuesday’s visit is the first by Shanahan to Iraq since he took over as the acting Pentagon chief after the resignation of Defense Minister Mike Mattis in December.

Last month, Trump visited U.S. troops in Iraq.

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