U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says it's time for Iranian-backed militias and their Iranian advisers who helped Iraq defeat Islamic State to "go home."
"Certainly Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fighting against [the Islamic State group] is coming to a close, those militias need to go home," Tillerson said at a press conference in Riyadh, where he is holding talks with Saudi and Iraqi leaders.
"The foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control," Tillerson said on October 22.
Tillerson's Gulf visit comes as part of efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration to isolate and contain Iran in the Middle East and beyond, and to curb its influence in the region.
Tillerson also urged other countries, particularly in Europe, to halt any business they do with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which plays a major role in Iran's economy and were added to a U.S. terrorism blacklist earlier this month.
"We are hoping that European companies, countries and others around the world will join the U.S. as we put in place a sanctions structure to prohibit certain activities of the [IRGC] that foment instability in the region and create destruction in the region," Tillerson said.
Tillerson made the comments after participating in the inaugural meeting of the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Committee with Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia, estranged for decades after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, have tried in recent years to bridge their differences.
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters