(Persia Digest) - Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi lashed out at US President Donald Trump for saying that he would keep American troops in Iraq for spying on Iran, describing Washington’s presence in the Arab country as illegitimate and unacceptable.
“Iraq is no place for Trump and the US forces to conduct surveillance against Iran,” Qassemi told FNA on Monday.
Fars News reports that the Iraqi government and people, he added, would not let the US turn the country’s soil into a base it can use against the Islamic Republic.
“Basically, they should not have come to Iraq in the first place. Their continued stay in this independent country is likewise a strategic mistake and illegitimate. Trump’s remarks and his attempt at justifying the prolonged presence are utterly unacceptable,” the diplomat concluded.
The reaction came after Trump told CBS that US troops would leave Syria and Afghanistan but stay on in Iraq, partly "to be looking a little bit at Iran."
The Iranian official, meanwhile, said the US president’s comments “cannot be counted on. His words are usually of a type that should not be taken very seriously, whether they have to do with departure from Syria, (military) presence elsewhere in the world, or the domestic policies that he adopts.”
Following Trump’s controversial remarks in the interview, Iraqi officials have voiced their anger over Washington’s instrumental approach to their country, calling for immediate pullout of US troops from the Arab country.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday that US troops do not have the right to use Iraq to "watch Iran".
"We are surprised by the statements made by the US president on the presence of US troops in Iraq," Salih said at a forum in Baghdad. "Trump did not ask us to keep US troops to watch Iran."
The Iraqi president said US troops had no right to monitor Iran under the agreement between the two nations, and that their specific mission was to combat terrorism, according to Reuters. He added that he would wait for clarifications from Washington on the numbers and nature of the US troops' mission in his country.
"Those forces do not have the right to monitor many things, including watching Iran. We will not allow this," he added.
First Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Hassan al-Kaabi issued a statement on last Sunday saying parliament would work on a bill to end the presence of U.S. troops in the country in its next session.
"All parties need, as soon as possible, to stop the US presence and not allow Iraq to be used as a springboard for aggression or surveillance of any state," the statement read.
Also, in a related front, on January 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after negotiations with Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Ali Al-Hakim that the US’ military presence in Iraq should correspond to the stated objectives in the fight against terrorism and should not be used for solving its own tasks.
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