Iran, Iraq pursuing case of US assassination of Gen. Soleimani
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visiting Baghdad on Sunday stressed that Iran-Iraq relations will not be “shaken”.
“Iran has good relations with Iraq on the energy level and will continue to,” Zarif said at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Baghdad following a meeting. "There are many agreements with Iraq that will be activated.”
Zarif's visit to Baghdad was the first since the American assassination of Iran’s Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani outside Baghdad airport in January.
Zarif paid a visit to the site of Soleimani's assassination outside the Baghdad airport upon his arrival to Iraq's capital. He said the loss of the Iranian general, who led Iran's Quds Force, was “a major loss” in the fight against the Daesh terror group, but that “Iran-Iraq relations will not be shaken.”
He added that that Iran and Iraq are pursuing the case of the US assassination through legal channels.
The two diplomats discussed trade, as border points were recently reopened and fortified with additional security forces in line with reform plans devised by Iraq's government. Talks encompassed energy and investment, with Iraq relying heavily on Iranian gas and electricity imports to meet power demands.
Iraq relies on Iran for trade and natural gas that generates as much as 45% of its electricity. Iran transmits another 1,200 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its Arab neighbor, but the United States is trying to pry Baghdad away from Tehran’s orbit.
The US has been enlisting its companies and allies such as Saudi Arabia to replace Iran as Iraq’s source of energy.
Zarif said relations between the two countries are based on mutual respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
Iraq and Iran, Zarif said, stood side by side to confront Daesh and defeated it but they should stay vigilant against a resurgence of the terrorist outfit.
Iran sees Iraq's strength and peace as well as constructive ties with its neighbors as its own, Zarif said as he expressed Tehran's interest in boosting energy and trade relations with Baghdad.
“We stressed that we want balanced relations with all neighboring countries, based on Iraqi interests, mutual interests and non-interference in internal affairs," Hussein said. "We stressed the necessity of keeping the region and Iraq out from international tensions and protecting Iraqi sovereignty.”
Zarif also met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi a day before the premier was set to fly to Riyadh on Monday and to Tehran the following day. Hussein, the foreign minister, said the trips were to “build balanced relations."
“Iraq seeks to assert its balanced and positive role in making peace and progress in the region,” Kadhimi tweeted during the meeting with Zarif.
In the talks with Kadhimi, the two sides explored ways to develop bilateral relations and discussed the latest developments in the region and the world as well as the situation in Iraq.
Zarif also met President Barham Salih, Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi, head of Supreme Judicial Council Faiq Zidan, and chairman of Hashd al-Sha'abi volunteer forces Falih al-Fayyadh.
Ahead of his visit, Zarif told IRNA that Iraq can play a role in maintaining security in the Persian Gulf.
AP and Press TV contributed to this story.