Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday for an unannounced trip that he said would emphasize the importance of Iraqi sovereignty and broach the issue of the future of US troops there, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The visit comes after President Donald Trump said this month that a U.S. presence was needed to observe Iran.
In his first trip to Iraq, Shanahan is set to meet with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
"We are in Iraq at the invitation of the government and our interests are to build Iraqi security capability," Shanahan told reporters traveling with him.
"I want to hear first-hand from them about concerns, the political dynamics that they are facing and then based on that we will obviously factor that into our planning."
Shanahan will also discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria with U.S. commanders.