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Baghdad rejects US interference in its affairs after embassy Twitter comments

US embassy posted tweet calling for Iran to allow disarming of Shia militias in Iraq
Fighters of Iraqi Shia militia near Mosul last year as they helped drive IS from the city (AFP/file photo)

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Saturday rejected what it called interference in its affairs after the US embassy issued a statement telling neighbouring Iran to respect Iraq's sovereignty and allow demobilisation of Shia militias.

The US embassy in Baghdad had posted a message on Twitter on Tuesday saying Tehran must "respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration" of Shia militias, AFP said.

It was one of several statements issued on the embassy's Twitter account outlining US demands before new sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sector take effect on 4 November. The sanctions worry Iraq as it imports crucial supplies from Iran.

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Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Mahjoub said that the tweet from the US embassy went "beyond diplomatic norms and mutual respect for the sovereignty of states," Xinhua reported.

"Iraq rejects interference in its internal issues, especially issues of internal security reform and the status of Iraqi security forces," Mahjoub added, in demanding that the US delete the tweet.

Washington and Tehran have competed for influence in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Iraq's Shia militias, which took part in a US-backed campaign to defeat the Islamic State group, were formally included in the security forces this year. Some militias are backed by Iran, a majority Shia nation. Washington wants them disarmed.

The United States said it would grant Baghdad a waiver on Iranian gas and energy imports that feed Iraqi power stations and vital food items, Iraqi officials said on Friday.

Three Iraqi officials said on Friday that the US had informed Baghdad it will be allowed to keep importing crucial gas, energy supplies and food items from Iran after Washington reimposes sanctions on Tehran's oil sector on Monday, according to Reuters.

The waiver is conditional on Iraq not paying Iran for the imports in US dollars, said the officials, including a member of Iraq's ministerial committee that oversees energy activities.

Iraq is among eight Iranian oil importers expected to receive waivers to bypass the forthcoming sanctions.