The visit by a top US diplomat comes after Lebanon accused Israel of killing four civilians in an airstrike.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made a surprise visit to Iraq as fears grow that the war between Israel and Hamas could escalate into a wider regional conflict.
Blinken, who is on a tour of several countries in the Middle East, held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Sunday, as Washington seeks Baghdad’s help in putting down attacks on U.S. forces for which it is accused by Iran holds supported groups responsible.
Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Blinken said talks with al-Sudani had been “productive” and that his Iraqi counterpart was working with his security forces to take “the necessary measures” to address the attacks.
“This is a question of Iraqi sovereignty,” Blinken said. “No country wants militias to engage in violent activities.”
“We have a common goal and a shared commitment to ensure that these attacks do not happen,” the top US diplomat added.
Al-Sudani, whose government has close ties with Iran but has publicly condemned attacks on U.S. forces in his country, reiterated calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and noted “the urgency of containing the crisis and preventing its spread.” , his office said in a statement.
The US Pentagon says rocket and drone attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria – most of them claimed by a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq – have occurred since fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas have increased significantly.
Washington has stepped up its diplomacy in the Middle East as Arab countries and armed groups in the region grow increasingly angry over the rising death toll from Israel’s war against the Palestinian armed group Hamas.
Blinken’s visit came after stops in Israel and Jordan after Lebanese officials said an Israeli airstrike killed four civilians, including three children, in the latest escalation in fighting on the tense Lebanese-Israeli border.
Lebanon-based armed group Hezbollah warned on Sunday that “the enemy will pay the price” for the attacks.
The Israeli military and Hezbollah, which like Hamas is backed by Iran, have been in regular cross-border clashes since Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7, which Israeli officials said killed at least 1,430 people, mostly civilians involved.
On Friday, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned that a larger regional conflict cannot be ruled out and that “all scenarios are open” as long as Israel continues its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave said at least 9,770 people were killed.
Blinken arrived in Turkey on Sunday evening, where he is expected to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan, while the Iran-backed group Kataib Hezbollah warned that the diplomat’s visit would result in “an unprecedented escalation.”
Al-Sudani is expected to begin a regional tour to Iran and the Gulf states on Monday.
Source : www.aljazeera.com