Zarif urges Europe to preserve Iran nuclear deal
Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran amid escalating Middle East tensions.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution.”
Hakim said Iraq stands with Iran and opposes unilateral steps taken by the United States.
Baghdad does not believe an "economic blockade" is fruitful, he added in a reference to US sanctions.
"We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position," Hakim said.
The mediation offer by Hakim echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran. The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s economy.
Iranians make up the bulk of millions of Shias from around the world who come to Iraq every year to visit its many Shia shrines and holy places and their purchasing power has slumped after Trump reimposed the sanctions.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Hakim said.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war” but urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.
"We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength," he said.
AP and Reuters contributed to this story.