President Rouhani calls for strengthening Iran-Iraq ties
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed the friendly relations between Iran and Iraq on Monday, saying that the trip will help solidify the strategic ties between the two sides, despite the US’ efforts to keep the two neighbors apart.
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He made the remarks during a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih in Baghdad.
Rouhani arrived in Baghdad earlier today for a three-day visit, which has been described as "historic and noble" by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The trip has been viewed by experts as Iran's response to US President Donald Trump's snap trip to Iraq in December, in line with Washington's efforts to keep the two neighbors apart and curb Iran's influence in the region.
The Iranian president referred to the two countries' cooperation in the fight against terrorism, saying that “we are glad that we stood beside the Iraqi nation and government in difficult days.”
Noting that the two countries share longstanding cultural, religious and political relations, Rouhani said, “such commonalities cannot be easily undermined, and we hope to solidify our ties more than before.”
He described the morning meeting with his Iraqi counterpart as constructive and promising, and highlighted that all the necessary grounds to boost cooperation in various fields including transit, energy, and industry are provided.
Boosting mutual ties would benefit both our governments and nations, he stressed.
Heading a high-ranking politico-economic delegation, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the president will hold talks with a number of other senior Iraqi officals including, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Speaker of Council of Representatives of Iraq Mohammed al-Halbousi during his three-day visit.
Rouhani is also set to visit the holy city of Najaf and meet with the great Shia Marja' Ayatollah Ali Sistani.