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US EFFORTS to isolate Iran have escalated with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps be branded an official foreign terrorist organisation.
The confrontational move would be the first time a country’s official armed forces were designated a terror group.
It has provoked tensions between the Trump administration and US military and intelligence officials who fear US troops could face similar actions by other governments.
Mr Pompeo is touring the Middle East, arriving yesterday for talks with officials in Kuwait, Israel and Lebanon on how to deal with Iran as the US sanctions continue to bite.
He stressed the need for “strategic dialogue” with regional allies and the need to combat “the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran” with leaders in the region.
In a joint press conference with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah, he said: “We all have the same set of threats, threats from al-Qaida, from the Islamic State group, threats from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Under his plans, some Iranian-trained Iraqi Shi’ite militia and officials that support would also be subjected to economic sanctions and travel bans.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said: “The Americans can make the decisions they want, but what the Americans see is different to what we see.
“Our position on the Popular Mobilisation Forces is very clear and well known.”
Mr Pompeo is set to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who faces possible defeat in the forthcoming elections, with charges of bribery, corruption and breach of trust hanging over him.
“I’m going to Israel because of the important relationship we have. Leaders will change in both countries over time. That relationship matters no matter who the leaders are,” he said.
There are no planned meetings with Palestinian authorities during his visit.
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