Iraq regrets U.S. decision to close consulate in Basra
BAGHDAD, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Saturday regretted that United States has decided to pull out its diplomats from Iraq's southern city of Basra and warned U.S. citizens against travelling to the country.
"Threats to our personnel and facilities in Iraq from the government of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, and from militias facilitated by and under the control and direction of the Quds Force leader Qasim Sulaimani have increased over the past several weeks," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
"Given the increasing and specific threats and incitement to attack our personnel and facilities in Iraq, I have directed that an appropriate temporary relocation of diplomatic personnel in Iraq take place," he added.
Basra, the province's capital city which bears the same name, has long witnessed complaints among its over 2 million residents about the collapsing infrastructure, power cuts and corruption.
In the past weeks, hundreds of angry demonstrators in Basra burned the Iranian consulate as well as the provincial government buildings and offices of leading political parties, and headquarters of some Shiite militias in protest of widespread corruption and water contamination in the province.
The ministry's statement came a day after the U.S. State Department decided to close its consulate in Basra, some 51000 km south of the capital Baghdad, blaming Iran for posing security threats to the area.
"Their security is part of the security of Iraq, and a legal and moral obligation," it added.
The Iraqi government "confirms that Iraq is committed to protecting foreign diplomatic missions on its territory and securing them," the ministry said in a statement.