Manama: The US embassy in Iraq has denied reports that a US presidential envoy and a top Iranian military commander had met secretly in Iraq.
“The Embassy is aware of false media reports that Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk and an Iranian General met to discuss forming a new Iraqi government. The reports are fake news. No such meeting ever happened,” Charles Cole, the US embassy spokesman, posted on the diplomatic mission’s Twitter account.
On Friday, Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida posted that McGurk and Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force, had a secret meeting in Iraq on September 11.
The two men discussed ways to address the formation of the stalled Iraqi government and to put an end to the escalation between the two sides, the daily said, citing well-informed sources within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. According to Al Jarida, the meeting was held upon a request from McGurk.
The Americans assured to the Iranians that they were not linked in any way with setting the Iranian consulate ablaze during the protests in Basra and asked the Iranians to instruct their allies not to attack US interests in Iraq in order to avoid any escalation that may spiral out of control, the daily added.
Tension between the US and Iran has ominously risen since the election of Donald Trump and was compounded by his decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal.
Iran has threatened to block the Hormuz Strait in retaliation for any hostile action by the US government while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US risked the “mother of all wars” with Iran.
Trump called for Rouhani to put an end to the rhetoric or “suffer the consequences the like of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”
“We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious!”