WASHINGTON, Sep 29 (TNS): The United States announced on Friday it will effectively close its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra and relocate diplomatic personnel assigned there following increasing threats from Iran and Iran-backed militia, including rocket fire.
The decision adds to mounting tension between the United States and Iran, which is the target of increasing U.S. economic sanctions.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said the consulate closure was “unjustified and unnecessary”, and said Iran condemned any attack on diplomats or diplomatic locations, according to the ministry’s website.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said it regretted the decision and urged foreign diplomats not to pay attention to “what is being circulated to undermine the climate of security and stability accompanying Iraq’s relations with the countries of the world.”
Iraq is committed to protecting diplomatic missions, spokesman Ahmed Mahgoub said in a statement on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as he explained the move, renewed a warning that the United States would hold Iran directly responsible for any attacks on Americans and U.S. diplomatic facilities.