Iraq's Hakim Discusses Regional Issues

Iraq's Hakim Discusses Regional IssuesIraq's Hakim Discusses Regional Issues

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday Tehran would continue to support the government in Baghdad in its fight against the so-called Islamic State.

In a meeting with the visiting chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim, he outlined the results of his recent regional tours to Lebanon and Syria, saying the visits "were in light of the accord reached in July" between Iran and the six world powers on Tehran's nuclear energy program, IRNA reported.

The minister noted that he and the senior officials in Damascus and Beirut explored ways to resolve the ongoing crises in the two countries. Zarif visited Lebanon on August 11 followed by visits to Syria, Pakistan, and India.

Regarding his visit to Russia earlier in the week, he described consultations with Moscow on backing the demands of the Syrian people and finding logical solutions based on the ground realities for the war-ravaged country as "constructive" and "useful".

Russia and Iran back the embattled president of Syria, Bashar Assad, in the five-year-old war with armed opponents of different stripes along with foreign mercenaries, terrorists and rebels backed by several Arab regimes. The bloody conflict has reportedly killed 250,000 people and displaced almost four million.

Zarif said during the Kremlin meetings "curbing the growing expansion of extremism and violence promoted by IS terrorists were seen as the most important regional priority."

The Iraqi official described in detail the latest developments in his war-torn country and said Bagdad has taken "effective steps in the fight against the IS" that for more than a year has been spreading death and destruction in the region, especially in Iraq and Syria.

"Cooperation between the Iraqi Army and popular forces has contributed to better security conditions in the country," Hakim said.

The cleric said the Vienna nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (five veto powers in the UN Security Council plus Germany) had helped open a new chapter in regional developments. He did not elaborate.

  Ethnic Conflict, Enemy's Plot

In a separate meeting later in the day, Hakim and the Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani discussed issues of mutual interest and concern. Fuelling ethnic and religious tensions in the neighboring Arab country "is a plot devised by the enemies of Islam" Rafsanjani was quoted as saying.

He appealed to the Iraqi religious and political leaders and tribal chiefs to promote cooperation and empathy, "both in words and deeds". Referring to the strategic position and abundant resources of the western neighbor, the senior politician called for boosting two-way political, economic, and cultural relations. The former Iranian president deemed as "important" cooperation between the Iraqi military and popular forces in fighting terrorists and said "the sacrifices made by the (Iraqi) people had contained and restricted the IS threat from spreading."

Hakim said unity between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias has contributed to the gradual retreat of terrorists and mercenaries from Iraq, expressing the hope that their collaboration would further make it difficult for the IS to expand its brutal tactics in his country.