Journalists accompanying Pompeo were not told of his new destination until his plane left for Baghdad and were not allowed to report on his whereabouts until after his plane had taken off for London.
During the flight to Baghdad, Pompeo told reporters he would meet with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
“You’ve all seen the reports that there have been escalating — information that indicates Iran is escalating their activity," Pompeo said. "I wanted to go to Baghdad to speak with the leadership there, to assure them that we stood ready to continue to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation.”
Pompeo also said he wanted to underscore Iraq's need to protect Americans in their country.