Iran says visit of Iraqi delegation was ‘quite common’

December 28, 2020 - 22:58

TEHRAN – Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said on Monday that the Sunday brief visit of an Iraqi delegation to Iran was “quite common”.

Speaking at a weekly press conference on Monday, the spokesman said, “This visit took place and the advisor to the Iraqi prime minister came to Iran, and we have regular and close contacts with the Iraqi officials in various fields.  They traveled to Iran at our invitation and have come to Iran to discuss bilateral issues and developments, and these talks between Iran and Iraq are quite common.”

On Sunday morning, Iraqi news media reported that an Iraqi delegation is expected to arrive in Tehran on Sunday afternoon. The delegation was carrying a message from Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

The Iraqi delegation paid a brief visit to Iran by order of the Iraqi prime minister and it was headed by Abu Jihad al-Hashemi.

The visit came against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States following a rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The U.S. blamed the attack on what it called “Iran-backed militias” but Iran rejected the accusation as dubious.

Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian is also expected to pay a visit to Iraq on Tuesday to hold talks with Iraqi officials on energy issues.

Iraq’s Electricity Ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Abadi has said that the visit of the Iranian minister has something to do with the reduction of Iran’s gas export to Iran in recent weeks. The spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran has lowered its gas exports to Iraq due to Iraq’s inability to pay its debts to Iran.

According to a Reuters report, Iran has reduced gas exports to Iraq to five million cubic meters from 50 million cubic meters two weeks ago citing unpaid bills, and it also officially informed Iraq’s Electricity Ministry on Sunday that it plans to cut shipments further to three million cubic meters.

Ahmed Moussa, also a spokesman for Iraq’s Electricity Ministry, said Ardakanian is scheduled to visit Baghdad on Tuesday to discuss the unpaid bills with his Iraqi counterpart.

“We strongly encourage Iraq’s Finance Ministry to resolve the unpaid bills with Iran to avoid critical shortages of power supplies in Baghdad and other cities,” Reuters quoted Moussa as saying.

Iraq relies on Iran’s gas to keep its power plants running but the country has faced difficulties paying its debts to Iran in cash due to U.S. sanctions on the country.

PA/PA

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