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Masum: Iran’s Presence in Iraq Timely, Positive
National

Masum: Iran’s Presence in Iraq Timely, Positive

The Iraqi president rejected claims of Tehran's interference in Iraq's internal affairs by some critics, describing Iran's presence in his country as "timely" and "positive".
"We do not consider Iran's involvement in Iraq to be meant to meddle in our internal affairs or for exploitative purposes," Fuad Masum said in an interview with IRNA in Baghdad on Saturday, noting, "We believe Iran's assistance has been timely and positive."
His remarks came ahead of his visit to Tehran scheduled for May 12. The two-day visit will be made at the official invitation of President Hassan Rouhani. Among other notable diplomatic meetings between senior officials of the two countries this month is Iraqi Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Adil Fahd al-Sharshab's tour of Iran on May 19 and Iraqi Culture Minister Faryad Rawanduzi's trip due on Tuesday at the invitation of his Iranian counterpart Ali Jannati. Iraq will also host Iranian Defense Minister Hussein Dehqan and Minister of Labor Ali Rabiei, who are scheduled to meet officials of the neighboring Arab country.  
Referring to activities of the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Iraq, Masum said, "Daesh (the Arabic acronym for IS, standing for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) poses a threat not only to Iraq and Iran, but also to all the countries in the region, namely Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and those outside the region."
  Brotherly Assistance
Noting that Iran was the first country to rush to help Iraq halt IS advances in the country, he said, "Iran offered its brotherly assistance to Iraq in line with the great, strong relations between the two countries."
Pointing to the long-lasting bilateral relations and the ethnic, religious and cultural similarities as well as a long common border between the two neighbors, the senior Iraqi official praised the "excellent ties" existing between the two countries particularly in the recent years.
Masum warned of the consequences of the ongoing civil war in Yemen, saying, "The prolongation of the war would lead to the emergence of many other problems in the region."
He reiterated his appeal to the warring sides in Yemen to turn to negotiations and try to resolve their differences through dialogue, as "one thousand hours of talks is better than one hour of war."

  Key Players
Referring to Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the four "major" regional countries, Masum said, "These countries should reach an agreement of some kind on different regional issues through negotiations, cooperation and interaction," stressing, "This is very important because dialogue among the four countries facilitated by their diplomatic efforts could lead to restoration of stability and security in the region."
He pointed to the negotiations underway between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) to settle the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, saying the prospective deal, which is set to be concluded by June 30, would also contribute to regional stability and security, rejecting the idea that the deal would further jeopardize the security in the region.
"Contrary to some claims, the Lausanne statement has definitely helped ease regional tensions."
Nuclear negotiations led to a landmark understanding between the two sides on the framework of the deal, announced through a joint statement released on April 2 in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

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