Iraqi, Iranian chief diplomats hold talks ahead of Rouhani visit to Baghdad

March 2, 2019

TEHRAN – The foreign ministers of Iran and Iraq had a phone conversation on Saturday, during which they discussed issues of mutual interest as well as the latest regional and international developments.

During the conversation, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim underlined the need for expansion of cooperation between the two countries in all areas, IRNA reported, citing a statement by Iraq’s Foreign Ministry.

The statement said that both Hakim and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, expressed their willingness to boost bilateral relations.

It came ahead of a visit to Baghdad by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on March 11 along with a large economic delegation.

Iran is one of the major trading partners of Iraq. Baghdad has resisted pressure by the Trump administration to cut economic ties with Iran since Washington reintroduced sanctions against Iran last May. Iran and Iraq have agreed to trade in euros.

Relations between Iran and Iraq have increased greatly since the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003. Iran was the first country that recognized the governing system in Iraq after the Saddam fall.

Also on Friday, the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad highlighted the importance of the Iranian and Turkish presidents’ visits to Iraq.

Ankara believes that the consensus among the three countries will prevent foreign interventions in the region, so it is highly important, said Fateh Yildiz, speaking to the Iraqi Alforat Television Network.

Yildiz also said the Turkish president’s visit to Baghdad will take place after city councils elections, which will be held in late March.

He predicted that Erdogan’s visit to Baghdad will pertain to issues of mutual interest, including water, expansion of relations, Turkey’s participation in reconstruction of Iraq, opening new consulates in the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kirkuk, fighting terrorism and the issue of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Regarding Turkey’s military presence in Bashiqa, northern Iraq, he said their presence is solely aimed at training.

MH/PA

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