Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran and Iraq are keen to expand their cooperation in the fight against terrorism and smuggling while seeking stronger ties in the power, gas and oil sectors.
“Border cooperation to fight terrorism, narcotics and smuggling will become stronger between the two countries,” Rouhani said at a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Tehran on Saturday.
He added that Iran was ready to continue the export of electricity, gas and oil to Iraq.
He emphasized that Tehran and Baghdad had managed to take good steps in recent months towards the expansion of financial and banking relations and hoped that both sides would further boost ties in this regard during an upcoming visit by the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdolnaser Hemmati, to Baghdad.
“We have plans to expand trade volume between the two countries to $20 billion in the future and we hope that we will reach this point within the next few months or years,” Rouhani said.
He also expressed hope that work on building a railway linking the two countries would begin soon.
In March, the United States granted Iraq a 90-day waiver for the second time to let Baghdad continue energy imports from Iran which is under US sanctions.
“While this waiver is intended to help Iraq mitigate energy shortages, we continue to discuss our Iran-related sanctions with our partners in Iraq,” a State Department official was quoted as saying on March 20.
The administration of US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran in November, months after he withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, but has granted waivers to several buyers, including Iraq, to meet consumer energy needs. The sanctions had been lifted against Iran as part of the nuclear deal.
Elsewhere in the presser, the Iranian president hailed deep-rooted and growing relations between the two countries and expressed hope that visa-free travel for both nations would lead to further expansion of relations.
Back in March, senior officials of the two countries signed five memoranda of understanding for the expansion of bilateral cooperation in various economic and healthcare sectors in Baghdad during a visit by Rouhani to Baghdad.
The two sides agreed on the construction of a railroad link between the Iranian city of Shalamcheh and the Iraqi city of Basra as well as visa facilitation for investors and businessmen. According to the visa agreement, starting in early April 2019, the two countries will issue visas to each other’s nationals free of charge.
Iran plays leading role in Iraq’s peace, stability: Abdul-Mahdi
The Iraqi prime minister, for his part, said Iran had played a leading role in the fight against terrorism and the promotion of peace and stability in Iraq and called for further development of mutual relations.
Abdul-Mahdi added that enhanced economic, security, trade and oil cooperation would lead to good achievements not only for Iran and Iraq but also for the entire world.
He stressed the importance of promoting peace in the Middle East and solving the Yemeni crisis through political means and said Iraq was firm to counter any threat by any country against Iran.
East Jerusalem al-Quds permanent capital of Palestine: Rouhani
Meanwhile, addressing a joint meeting between the high-ranking Iranian and Iraqi delegations, Rouhani said Iran regarded East Jerusalem al-Quds as the permanent capital of Palestine.
“We consider any move which would run counter to this as in contravention of history and regulations of the United Nations and condemn it,” the Iranian president added.
Undoubtedly, the Golah Heights is part of the Syrian soil which has been occupied by the usurpers and nothing can distort this historical fact, he pointed out.
Back in December 2017, Trump officially declared the disputed city of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, despite warnings from around the world that the measure risks triggering a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East.
In May 2018, the United States officially announced the opening of its new embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds, despite warnings from around the world that the measure risked triggering a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East.
In March, Trump formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, a border area the Tel Aviv regime seized from Syria in 1967.
In March, President Trump formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, a border area the Tel Aviv regime seized from Syria in 1967.
“This was a long time in the making. Should have taken place decades ago,” Trump said while signing a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian territory.
Elsewhere in his remarks in the meeting of the high-ranking delegations, Rouhani said the development of Tehran-Baghdad ties in the fields of electricity, energy and railway would serve the two nations’ interests and added, “We should make plans for the expansion of preferential tariffs and free trade between Iran and Iraq.”
He also expressed Iran’s readiness to share its experience with Iraq in technical and engineering services, including the construction of houses, power plants and dams.