Iraqi Prime Minister: Baghdad does not want US-Iran war

Adel Abdul Mahdi is sending delegations to Tehran and Washington to ease tensions

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi speaks to the media during a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Erdogan says Turkey and Iraq have discussed a possible deal to increase military and security cooperation between the neighboring countries. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
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Iraq does not want to see US-Iran tensions escalate into war, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday, days after a rocket landed close to the US embassy in Baghdad.

Officials in Baghdad are worried about a potential confrontation between Tehran and Washington after the US State Department instructed all non-emergency US embassy employees to leave Iraq amid what it said was a heightened security threat from Iran and its proxies.

Mr Abdul Mahdi said that Baghdad will send delegations to Washington and Tehran to try and ease tensions between the two states.

He said Iraq is "playing a role to calm the situation but it is not a mediation".

Sunday's rocket attack caused no casualties or damage to the US embassy and no group claimed responsibility.

The State Department said Washington would hold Iran responsible if any such attacks were found to be carried out by its proxy militias or elements of such forces, and would respond accordingly.

"We have made clear over the past two weeks and again underscore that attacks on US personnel and facilities will not be tolerated and will be responded to in a decisive manner," a State Department official told The National.

“We are in close and continuing contact with senior Iraqi officials regarding this incident and investigating the circumstances,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the growing tensions in the region are posing a challenge to the stability of global crude oil markets, Iraq's oil minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Tuesday.

The Iraqi official said that OPEC's ministerial monitoring committee, known as the JMMC, must monitor markets to pave the way for a "new agreement" to be discussed at an upcoming OPEC meeting in Vienna to help stabilise markets.

Mr Abdul Mahdi said it is vital for Baghdad to work with Turkey and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to explore an alternative route to export oil should the Strait of Hormuz be closed to shipping due to US-Iran tensions.

The prime minister also said he will also visit Kuwait on Wednesday to discuss regional matters.