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Zarif Holds Top-Level Talks in Iraq

Zarif Holds Top-Level Talks in Iraq Zarif Holds Top-Level Talks in Iraq

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held meetings with high-level Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Sunday, ahead of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s visit to Tehran on Tuesday.
Zarif told reporters upon arrival that he would discuss the previous agreements reached between the presidents of the two countries as well as regional issues, including the United States’ assassination in January of top Iranian and Iraqi commanders, among other issues of mutual interest, ISNA reported.  
He was also set to make arrangements for al-Kadhimi’s trip to Tehran.
The Iraqi premier will be heading for Saudi Arabia at the head of a delegation before traveling on Tuesday to Tehran, where he is expected to meet Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.    
In Baghdad, the Iranian foreign minister was first received by his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, in which the two sides discussed a range of issues, including economic ties, joint efforts against terrorism and cooperation to control the new coronavirus pandemic. 
Zarif described Iraq as a priority for Iran in terms of economic relations. 
“The economic capacities of the two countries, both in energy and trade sectors, can be used for the development of both nations despite the spread of coronavirus,” he said at a press conference after the meeting, IRNA reported. 
Hussein said part of the bilateral trade has been affected by health protocols enforced to control the Covid-19 pandemic, but both sides stressed the importance of resuming relations in spite of the disease. 
“Promoting religious tourism between the two countries while health guidelines for Covid-19 are observed was also discussed,” the Iraqi diplomat said. 

 

 

Trade Target 

Zarif expressed hope that the two neighbors’ mutual trade would reach the target of $20 billion envisioned by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iraqi President Barham Salih during Rouhani’s visit to Baghdad in March 2018.  
“Other agreements were reached on shipping, water borders, railroad development, energy, tourism, health and other sectors during that trip, which we are seriously pursuing,” he added.
Zarif also appreciated the two countries’ close cooperation in fighting the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, warning that both nations should still be alert to terrorism. 
“The US assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and their companions was a great loss for the region’s anti-terrorism cause,” he said, adding that Iran and Iraq, which have suffered because of this criminal act, will jointly pursue the matter. 
“It is important for Iran that its neighbor can maintain its territorial integrity, national sovereignty and stability, and remain safe from foreign aggression and invasion,” Zarif said. 
“A strong and peaceful Iraq that has constructive relations with all its neighbors could guarantee Iran’s strength, peace and stability.”  
The Iranian foreign minister later met with al-Kadhimi, who rose to premiership in May after former prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, resigned under pressure from anti-government protests. 
The two officials discussed bilateral ties and major regional and international issues, as well as Kadhimi’s upcoming visit to Tehran. 
The Iranian minister later met with other top Iraqi authorities, including President Barham Salih, Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi and the head of Hashd al-Shaabi forces, Falih al-Fayadh, among several others. 
Zarif later set off for the city of Erbil to hold talks with the authorities of the Kurdistan region, including its President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani.   

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