BAGHDAD, Feb. 01 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to ban Iraqis from traveling to the United States is punishing those who are "sacrificing and fighting terrorism."
Abadi's comment came four days after Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.
"You come to the victim to hold him accountable. You come to the people who are sacrificing and fighting terrorism, to punish them," Abadi said at a press conference after his weekly cabinet meeting.
"The way the order was issued was not good and represents an offense to Iraqis that must be corrected, and I don't want to cause the same offense to the American people now," Abadi said.
"We are studying all our choices," Abadi said, adding that he hopes the order will be changed.
On Monday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry expressed "regret" over the latest restrictions by the Trump administration on the entry of Iraqi nationals into the United States, and asked Washington to "reconsider" the travel ban on Iraqi citizens.
"It is very unfortunate that such U.S. decision was issued against an allied country (Iraq), which is linked with the United States in a strategic partnership," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"It is necessary that the new U.S. administration reconsider this wrong decision," the ministry said. "Iraq has a real desire to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries."
The ministry statement came a day after the Iraqi parliament's foreign affairs committee voted for recommendations that the Iraqi government should demand "reciprocation" and take countermeasures against the Trump decision.
"We reject the decision of President Trump as Iraq is on the frontline of fighting terrorism, and we are the side who gives martyrs and sacrifices for a war that we fight on behalf of the whole world," said Hanan al-Fatlawi, a member of the foreign affairs committee.
"It is unfair that Iraqis are treated in this way," she told a press conference after a committee meeting to discuss the U.S. decision.
Trump's order has caused angry reactions in Iraq, where more than 5,000 U.S. troops are deployed, helping Iraqi forces in the battles against the extremist militants of the Islamic State (IS) group in Mosul in northern Iraq.