Baghdad (EFE).- The US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday on a surprise visit as part of his tour of the Middle East.
Austin is the highest-ranking official of the Joe Biden administration to visit the country and his trip coincides with the month that marks the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.
“I am here to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq on our path to a more secure, stable, and sovereign Iraq,” the Pentagon chief said on his official Twitter account.
Visit to Israel amid escalating violence
So far, the details of this trip, which takes place less than two weeks before the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq that began in 2003 that overthrew the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein, are not known.
But Austin is likely to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, who recently supported the “indefinite” presence of US troops in Iraq in a Wall Street Journal interview after the Parliament of the country asked for the departure of foreign soldiers.
The assassination of powerful Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a January 2020 US targeted bombing of Baghdad led to the end of the US combat mission in Iraq and the withdrawal of a large military contingent, although the US maintains around 2,000 troops. dedicated exclusively to advisory and training tasks.
Austin’s trip to the Middle East, whose first stop was Jordan yesterday, is focused on addressing the escalating violence between Israel and Palestine, as well as threats associated with Iran in the region.
Austin is expected to travel on this tour to Israel and Egypt, although the US department has not disclosed the dates.