Iran foreign minister meets with top officials on Iraq visit

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met with senior Iraqi officials on Monday, discussing bilateral cooperation and reducing tensions.

Zarif arrived in Baghdad on Monday, where he was welcomed by his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein. Zarif later met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi, and other Iraqi politicians.

In a statement released by the Iraqi presidency, it said that the President noted that “the countries of the region face many challenges, and joint work, coordination and commitment to dialogue should be taken to overcome the differences and imbalances that surround them, and to cooperate to end conflicts.” He added that this must be done “within the framework of mutual respect, common interests and state sovereignty.”

“The policy of openness adopted by Iraq to its regional and international surroundings aims to build balanced relations in support of efforts to reduce tensions and crises,” he added.

Zarif later met with Kadhimi, during which the premier “stressed the importance of communication between officials of the two countries, in light of the rapid developments taking place in the region and the world, which require the continuation of dialogue and the exchange of ideas between the countries of the region,” according to the PM’s office.

Zarif’s visit to Iraq comes after talks between rivals Saudi and Iran reportedly took place earlier this month in Baghdad, facilitated by Kadhimi.

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq last week welcomed Baghdad’s efforts to mend regional relations, and expressed Iran’s readiness for talks.

“If Iraq can play any role in bringing Iran closer to the countries with which we have some challenges, or our relations have cooled or political cooperation with them has stopped; we will be happy,” Iraj Masjedi told Iranian state media IRNA on Tuesday.

Members of the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been meeting in Vienna, with the United States participating indirectly, to find a way to bring the US back into the deal and Iran into full compliance.

Talks are set to resume on Tuesday April 27, according to the European Union External Action Service.

Zarif will visit Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil and Najaf on Tuesday.

Source: Rudaw