Belgium coordinating with EU partners over withdrawal of nationals from Iraq

Belgium coordinating with EU partners over withdrawal of nationals from Iraq
General Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, killed in Baghdad by an American drone

The Belgian government is currently involved in coordination with its EU partners on the question of whether to withdraw its nationals from Iraq, following the killing by US drone attack at Baghdad airport of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guard.

The Dutch government has already advised its nationals to leave the country, as some kind of retaliatory action has been promised by the Iranian government, and westerners, whether American or not, are likely to become targets.

However according to Karl Lagatie, spokesperson for the Belgian diplomatic service, Belgium prefers to take a concerted approach with its EU partners. Belgium has no embassy in Iraq, with its embassy in Jordan looking after the interests of Belgians in Iraq, of whom there are about 100, with 35 based in Baghdad. That number refers to those who have signalled their presence in the country to the Belgian ministry for foreign affairs, suggesting they are residing in the country for the longer term, rather than visiting tourists.

According to Belga news agency, the Dutch foreign ministry advised its nationals to leave Iraq if they could do so safely. US citizens have been advised to leave immediately.

Our travel advisory is already clear,” Lagatie said. “We advise against all trips to Iraq, apart from the autonomous region of Kurdistan, where we only advise against trips that are not essential. The foreign ministry advises “the greatest prudence … by reason of terrorist acts, kidnappings and the presence of unexploded munitions.”

A declaration from the joint meeting of EU partners can be expected at some point this afternoon, the ministry said.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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