Iran's President Rouhani to make first official visit to Iraq

Clay Curtis
March 13, 2019

Rouhani´s visit to Iraq will be the first since he became president in 2013.

"It is in Pakistan's own interest not to allow our territory to be used by terrorist groups, and the Pakistani army is prepared to confront the terrorists more decisively with the information provided by Iran", IRNA quoted Khan as saying. "However, it's also aware that given the level of interdependencies between the two sides, Iraq is not yet ready to fully comply with the U.S. demands even if it decides to do so", said Hamidreza Azizi, an assistant professor of regional studies at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

But Iraq, which shares a 900-mile border with Iran, relies on its eastern neighbor for everything from electricity to military assistance in the fight against the Islamic State. Trump made a snap December trip to Iraq and made comments that US forces should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran, something dismissed by both Iran and Iraqi leaders, whom Trump did not meet on the visit.

These relations could not be compared to Baghdad's ties "with an aggressor country like America", he said.

"We want to be united countries, not against others, but attracting others to our unity", Rouhani said.

Meanwhile, Rohani is suffering difficulties at home because of an economic crisis, much of it related to USA sanctions.

"We are very much interested to expand our ties with Iraq, particularly our transport cooperation". "In the recent years, the people of Iran have passed a test with pride, and that is wherever the peoples of the region faced a problem and asked for the help of the Iranian nation and government, we rushed to help them". Mr Rouhani told Mr Khan he is fully ready to support the Pakistani army and government to get rid of the terrorist threat.

According to a statement issued by the PM Office in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani as part of his contacts to brief important regional countries and their leadership about the regional situation.

Rouhani also plans to meet the supreme religious authority in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf, Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

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Rouhani was received by an honor guard on landing in Baghdad, where he was welcomed by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim.

Mr Trump's decision, made after he abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal, has led to a sharp downturn in Iran's economy, pushing the value of its currency to record lows, quadrupling its annual inflation rate, and driving away foreign investors.

Baghdad has been under pressure from Washington to limit ties with its neighbour, particularly after the United States previous year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and hit Tehran with sanctions.

"Iraq is another channel for Iran to bypass America's unjust sanctions imposed on Iran".

Iraq was given limited waivers to continue buying electricity and natural gas from Iran, with Washington calling on Baghdad to partner with United States companies to become energy independent.

Iraq, which faces a chronic power shortage that was a key driving factor behind mass protests past year, has been piping in up to 28 million cubic metres of Iranian gas a day for power generation.

Besides canned food and cars, Baghdad also buys 1,300 megawatts of electricity and 28 million cubic metres of natural gas daily from Iran to feed power plants.

Salih and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani spoke on the relations between the two countries.

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