By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has rejected suggestions that Iran’s top military commander was on a “diplomatic” mission when he was killed by a U.S. air strike near Baghdad last week.
“Is there any history that would indicate that it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order — Qassem Soleimani — had traveled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission?” Pompeo told a press briefing on January 7.
“We know that wasn’t true,” he added, responding to remarks by Iranian officials that the slain major general was attempting to conduct peace talks in Iraq.
Pompeo reiterated U.S. President Donald Trump’s view that Soleimani, who headed Iran’s elite Quds Force, was in the process of orchestrating attacks on Americans and others in the region.
The state secretary also said that Iran was “actively working” to undermine the peace process in Afghanistan and that Tehran had relationships with the Taliban and other militant groups there.
“Iran has refused to join the regional and international consensus for peace, and is, in fact, actively working to undermine the peace process by continuing its long global effort to support militant groups there,” Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that he had discussed the “latest security developments in the region” with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“We both agreed that it’s time for urgent #de-escalation between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he wrote.