During a brief visit to Lebanon, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has expressed hope that relations between Baghdad and Beirut could be restored.
Following a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Saad Hariri on Thursday, Maliki said that his country was interested in reviving bilateral relations both politically and economically.
Maliki also hinted at the possibility of joint security cooperation between Iraq and Lebanon in the face of “common threats.”
Lebanon severed diplomatic ties with Iraq in 1994, when the Lebanese authorities accused the government of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein of being behind the assassination of an Iraqi opposition activist in Beirut.
Relations between two sides, however, began to improve in 1998, when Lebanon decided to reopen its embassy in Baghdad.
Maliki is in Beirut to pay his respects for Lebanon’s leading cleric, late Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who died from internal bleeding in a Beirut hospital on Sunday.
The revered cleric served as the resistance’s spiritual leader following its formation in 1982. A vocal critic of the United States, he regularly criticized Washington’s warmongering policies in the Middle East, particularly its alliance with Tel Aviv.
The Iraqi prime minister is accompanied by Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani and National Security Minister Marwan al-Wadi.