The US on Wednesday (August 19th) called for Iraq to dismantle non-government "armed groups" that have "undermined national sovereignty", ahead of a visit to Washington by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi.
"Armed groups not under the full control of the prime minister have impeded our progress," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "Those groups need to be replaced by local police as soon as possible."
Pompeo was speaking at a press conference in Washington with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, ahead of Kadhemi's meeting with President Donald Trump.
He did not specify which groups he was referring to, but Kadhemi, who took office in May, faces challenges from factions of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a coalition of paramilitary groups with close ties to Iran.
His visit to Washington comes amid weekly attacks attributed to the groups against US and international coalition installations and assets in the country.
Pompeo said he had assured Hussein the US would help Iraq toward this end.
"We talked about how the US and Iraq can work together to make Iraq more safe and stable," he said.
Pompeo said the US is committed to supporting the official Iraqi security forces "to curb the power of militias that have for far too long terrorised the Iraqi people, and undermined Iraq's national sovereignty".
The two countries have been conducting a "strategic dialogue" since June as the US seeks to reduce its military presence there.
Asked about the plan for cutting the 5,000 US troops now in Iraq, Pompeo said he had no numbers and urged people "not to focus on that".
The continuing US presence, focused on fighting "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants, will be a key issue when Kadhemi meets Trump.