Khamenei Urges Iraq to Ensure U.S. Troops Leave 'As Soon as Possible'

Trump has said he plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran

File Photo: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech on the first day of Persian New Year, also known as Nowruz in Mashhad, northeast of Tehran, Iran March 21, 2019.

Iran's top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Saturday to ensure U.S. troops leave his country "as soon as possible", Iranian state media reported.

"You must make sure that the Americans withdraw their troops from Iraq as soon as possible because expelling them has become difficult whenever they have had a long military presence in a country," Khamenei was quoted as saying.

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U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation" in February that he plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran.

"All I want to do is be able to watch," Trump said. "We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up."

"And this is what a lot of people don't understand," he continued. "We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do."

Trump's comments came amid a U.S. withdrawal from Syria and a draw down from Afghanistan, which the Republican-led U.S. Senate had rebuked last.

The Senate voted 68-23 in favor of a non-binding amendment, drafted by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying it was the sense of the Senate that Islamic militant groups in both countries continue to pose a "serious threat" to the United States.