Iraqi Prime Minister Expected

Iraqi Prime Minister Expected Iraqi Prime Minister Expected

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is to make his first official visit to Iran on Saturday, a member of his office said.
He would spend two days in the Islamic Republic, the source also told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. 
President Barham Salih and Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Mohammed al-Halbousi had earlier visited Iran in the past six months. 
Abdul Mahdi has rarely traveled since coming to power in October, making his first trip abroad in late March to Egypt.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Abdul Mahdi said he was planning trips to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States, without specifying dates.
His trip to Iran comes after multiple visits by top Iranian officials to the Arab country, including the recent tour of Iraqi cities by President Hassan Rouhani in mid-March.   
On his three-day visit, Rouhani met Abdul Mahdi, Salih and Halbousi as well as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shia religious authority in the holy city of Najaf.
He also attended several business forums where a number of memoranda of understanding on economic cooperation were signed. 
Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdolnasser Hemmati had also earlier traveled to the neighboring country to discuss mutual cooperation in a wide range of fields. 
Iran’s strong ties with its neighboring Arab country help reduce the economic pressure exerted by the United States after the latter’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal last May. 
American sanctions have restricted Iran’s oil and banking relations with the world, seriously disrupting its economy. 



Key Trade Partner 


Iraq is a key trade partner for Tehran as it is one of the biggest importers of Iranian goods and services, including the much-needed natural gas and electricity, crucial to the country’s faltering power sector. 
Baghdad has been trying to avoid Tehran-Washington tension, with officials repeatedly saying that Iraq wants good ties with both the US and Iran.
It has obtained temporary waivers from Washington to continue its energy imports and is negotiating to extend the exemptions. 
Last month, Halbousi traveled to the US where he said his country would need to rely on Iranian gas and electricity for another three years.
The two countries have agreed to establish a non-dollar trade system so that Iran can circumvent the US sanctions. 

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