In a meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Baghdad on Monday, Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed Iraq’s influential role in the region while explaining Iran’s viewpoint on regional security, which has been already presented to the world by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in the form of Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE).
Addressing the UN General Assembly meeting in September 2019, President Rouhani presented Iran’s HOPE initiative which calls on all regional countries to cooperate in order to promote security in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s top diplomat said the Islamic Republic believes in a regional security system consisting of all countries present in the Persian Gulf region.
He stressed the importance of adopting strategies to implement agreements already signed between Tehran and Baghdad in different sectors without complicated bureaucratic procedures.
The Iraqi president, for his part, said his country attaches importance to ties with Iran, adding that the immediate implementation of bilateral agreements is of high significance.
Zarif and Salih also exchanged views about environmental issues, terrorism and extremism in the region, financial issues between the two countries and bilateral cooperation in the region and the world.
‘Tehran-Baghdad relations benefit both nations, entire region’
Following Zarif’s visit with Salih, Iraq’s presidential office issued a statement noting that during the meeting, the two sides stressed the importance of bilateral relations as being beneficial to the entire region.
The statement added that during their meeting, Zarif and Salih highlighted strong social, religious, cultural and geographical commonalities between the two nations, stressing that Tehran-Baghdad relations benefit both nations and the entire region.
Salih told the Iranian foreign minister that Iraq welcomes the expansion of balanced ties with regional countries in line with efforts aimed at easing tension and crisis in the region.
He emphasized that a strong and independent Iraq would be beneficial to all regional states.
Regional states are facing numerous challenges and should make joint efforts based on dialogue to patch up differences and remove obstacles in the way of strengthening cooperation, the Iraqi president said.
He emphasized that dialogue and cooperation would help end conflicts and counter the existing economic and health challenges based on mutual respect and common interests of countries.
Earlier in the day, Zarif held a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein and called for a bigger role for Iraq in the Middle East.
He praised Iraq’s important role in the Middle East and expressed Tehran’s hope that Baghdad’s role would result in positive developments in the region.
The Iranian foreign minister is on a tour of two regional states which has also taken him to Qatar.
In a tweet early Monday after meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani in Doha, Zarif described Iran’s neighbors as the country’s priority, saying President Rouhani’s HOPE initiative demonstrates Tehran’s approach to regional countries.
‘Expelling foreign forces, show of respect for Iraq’s sovereignty’
In a separate meeting with Iraq’s Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, the top Iranian diplomat reiterated the Islamic Republic’s stance on the importance of regional convergence and hailed Baghdad’s constructive role in this regard.
Zarif said the implementation of a law adopted by the Iraqi parliament on the pullout of foreign troops from the Arab country was a show of respect for the Iraq’s sovereignty.
He emphasized that the Americans assassinated Lt. General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and their companions “inside the Iraqi territory.”
Anti-US sentiment has been running high in Iraq since the assassination of Lt. General Soleimani, Muhandis and their companions in a US strike targeting their vehicle outside Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
The cowardly act of terror was carried out under the direction of former US President Donald Trump.
General Soleimani is viewed by the world’s freedom-seeking people as the key figure in defeating Daesh, the world’s most notorious terrorist group, in the Middle East battles.
Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days after the assassination, demanding the expulsion of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.
Halbousi, for his part, said the Iraqi parliament and government have played a leading role in boosting peace in the region.
He emphasized that his country supports efforts to prepare the ground for the expansion of trade ties between Tehran and Baghdad.