President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday strategic bonds between Iran and Iraq can help ensure regional security and stability.
Rouhani made the comment during a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in Tehran.
The president hailed the two neighbors economic potential, saying Iran and Iraq can take steps to push up their trade volume $20 billion annually.
He also expressed Iran’s opposition to foreign intervention in Iraqi affairs.
“This (interference) runs counter to the interest of the Iraqi people and the whole region,” Rouhani said.
He described the US assassination of Iran’s Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as “most shameless foreign interference” in the internal affairs of Iraq.
US targeted the two anti-terrorism commanders with a drone strike outside Bagdad’s international airport in January 2020.
Rouhani hoped that the administration of US President Joe Biden would conclude that the American military presence in the region is detrimental to security and would reconsider this policy.
The Iraqi minister said Baghdad seeks to boots ties with Tehran in all areas.
Hussein said Baghdad is adamantly pushing for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.
Trump’s arrest warrant
Earlier, Iran’s foreign minister held talks with his Iraqi counterpart.
Mohammad Javad Zarif lauded an Iraqi court’s decision to order the arrest of former US president Donald Trump for the assassination General Soleimani and Muhandis, saying ending the presence of US forces in the region would be the best response to such a terrorist act.
Zarif thanked the Iraqi government for pursuing the judicial process about the assassination of the two commanders, expressing hope for the punishment of the perpetrators and organizers of the criminal act through legal proceedings, Press TV reported.
“Putting an end to the presence of US forces in the region would be the best response to this terrorist act,” he said.
Trump’s arrest warrant, issued by Baghdad's Rusafa investigation court on January 7, applies to the former US president under Article 406 of the Iraqi penal code, which provides for the death penalty in all cases of premeditated murder.
The court said at the time that preliminary inquiry had been completed, but “investigations are continuing in order to unmask the other culprits in this crime, be they Iraqis or foreigners.”
Zarif called for the establishment of joint economic commissions between Iran and Iraq, expressing hope that agreements reached between the two neighboring countries in the fields of industrial parks, border markets, trade and pilgrimage, transportation of goods and banking transactions would be implemented as soon as possible.
Hussein expressed his country’s resolve and determination to further broaden relations with Iran, stressing that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi attaches paramount significance to Baghdad-Tehran ties.
US expulsion from Iraq
The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council also met with the visiting minister.
Ali Shamkhani hailed the arrest order, emphasizing that perpetrators of the terrorist crime must be harshly punished.
“We must not allow the blood of the martyrs Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani to go in vain, and organizers as well as perpetrators of this terrorist crime must be prosecuted and severely punished,” Shamkhani said.
Shamkhani also pointed to a resolution adopted by Iraq’s Parliament concerning the expulsion of US-led foreign forces from the Arab country, saying its implementation will be a good prelude to their complete withdrawal from the entire region.
Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days later, demanding the expulsion of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.
“For the Iraqi government to overcome political, economic and security problems in the country, it is necessary that it boosts and consolidates its authority and sovereignty to establish law and order,” Shmakhani also said.
“The main cause of instability and crisis in the region is the evil presence of foreign forces, especially American forces,” he added.
Shmakhani also stressed the need to revive Iraq's political and historical position in the Muslim world and among Arab states.
During the meeting, Hussein referred to Iran’s important role in maintaining stability and security in the Middle East region, saying expansion of all-out ties, particularly implementation of joint economic projects with Iran, is among Iraq's top foreign policy priorities.
“The Iraqi people and government will never forget the vital support and assistance of Iranian brethren in repelling the terrorist sedition of Daesh in Iraq,” the Iraqi foreign minister highlighted.