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Monday, March 3, 2008
Ahmadinejad calls Iran-Iraq ties ‘excellent and unique’
Tehran Times Political Desk
BAGHDAD – President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has expressed hope that his visit to Baghdad will open a new chapter in “excellent and unique” relations between Iran and Iraq.
Ahmadinejad arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for a two-day visit as part of efforts to establish security in the warn-ravaged country and improve bilateral ties. He was received by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie.
“I am sure that the agreements inked during this trip will quickly improve political, economic, and cultural relations to the highest level,” Ahmadinejad told reporters in a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday.
“I had a very good meeting with Mr. Nouri al-Maliki and we discussed different issues such as energy, transportation, industry, trade, tourism, investment, and security,” he added.
Ahmadinejad said the two countries have a common stance on all issues and are determined to boost cooperation.
“The Iraqi nation and government are mature enough to recognize their own interests and the interests of the region,” he added.
Referring to U.S. President George W. Bush’s allegations that Iran is fueling violence in Iraq, Ahmadinejad said, “Making accusations against others will not resolve the U.S. problems in the region…The United States should accept the fact that Iraq does not want the (presence of) U.S. (troops in the region),”
Al-Maliki, for his part, said the Iranian president’s visit to Iraq shows that the two countries are determined to bolster bilateral relations.
He expressed hope that frequent meetings between Iranian and Iraqi officials will help increase security in the region.
Despite the Saddam Hussein regime which had created tension in the region, Iraq’s current government is pursuing to establish security and boost cooperation with neighboring countries.
Al-Maliki stated that the Iraqi government plans to start the reconstruction of the warn-torn country with the help of Iran.
In his meeting with Ahmadinejad prior to the press conference the Iraqi prime minister said, “We hope that all countries learn from Iran and participate in Iraq’s reconstruction.”
-------------Iran and Iraq will stand by each other
In a separate news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani, Ahmadinejad called his landmark visit to Iraq “a new page in the history of the relations between the two countries and cooperation in the region.”
Ahmadinejad said that the “Iranian and Iraqi nations will always stand by each other.”
Talabani, who grinned broadly and eagerly shook Ahmadinejad’s hand, called the visit “historic”, AFP reported.
“A united, powerful, and developed Iraq is in the interests of the entire region,” Ahmadinejad told reporters.
Ahmadinejad is the first regional leader who is visiting Iraq after was Saddam Hussein regime was toppled in 2003.
“Visiting Iraq without a dictator… is very pleasing,” the Iranian president said in an indirect reference to Saddam Hussein.
He said the meeting with his counterpart was “friendly, brotherly, and completely constructive”.
“The two countries of Iran and Iraq plan to develop their cooperation in economic, political, and cultural areas as much as possible,” Ahmadinejad added.
He said he was extremely happy that he was visiting Iraq.
“I am happy from the bottom of my heart that I have come to see dear brothers in oppressed Iraq,” the president noted