The US State Department has said no to a request transmitted on Thursday by Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi for Washington to remove American troops from the Middle Eastern country. In a Friday communique, the State Department said there would be no discussions on the matter, calling the presence there of US troops “appropriate.” Abdul-Mahdi made the request following a US drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, as he arrived in Baghdad on January 3, and after Iran retaliated by firing rockets at Iraqi bases hosting US troops on January 8. The State Department nevertheless acknowledged the need for talks with Iraq: “There does… need to be a conversation between the US and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic and diplomatic partnership,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. Also on Friday, anti-government demonstrators returned to the streets of Baghdad. They continued to protest not only government corruption, but undue influence in the country’s affairs by Iran – and now by the United States.