0440 GMT August 22, 2019
Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri paid a three-day visit to Iraq in order to strengthen economic and political relations with Iran’s western neighbor.
Jahangiri arrived in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on Wednesday at the head of a high-ranking delegation comprising political and economic officials.
During his visit, Jahangiri held talks with the Iraqi prime minister, president, Parliament speaker and secretary general of the Iraqi Islamic Party.
They discussed ways to boost bilateral ties and developments in the region.
On Wednesday, the Iranian official told Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that Tehran is ready to provide Iraq with a line of credit (LOC) worth up to three billion dollars to pave the way for the Iranian private sector’s active participation in the reconstruction of the neighboring country.
He said the two sides should work to remove the restrictions in bilateral banking relations, which he said is the main obstacle to closer trade ties between the two nations, Press TV reported.
Jahangiri hailed Iran-Iraq ties as “strategic,” noting that the many commonalities between the two nations can lay the groundwork for the promotion of bilateral economic ties.
Iran and Iraq need a “comprehensive roadmap” for their economic cooperation, which would serve as a basis for their business ties, the senior Iranian official added.
Need to connect railways
Jahangiri underlined the need for connecting Iran-Iraq railways, saying the route will enable Iraq to have access to Central Asia and China, and link Iran’s railway to the Mediterranean.
He also called for the promotion of cooperation with Iraq in other areas, including pharmaceuticals, energy and customs.
The Iraqi premier expressed gratitude for Iran’s role in the country’s reconstruction and noted that the Iranian private sector has made significant investments in the process.
Iraq is reeling from Daesh’s three-year terror campaign, which has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure and economy.
Iraqi Armed Forces, backed by Iranian military advisors, fully liberated their homeland from Daesh terrorists last December.
In his meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Jahangiri assured him that Iran will help reconstruct Iraq just as it helped it defeat the Daesh terrorist group because of the deep bonds between the two neighboring countries.
"In the fight against Daesh, we showed that Iran was inseparable from Iraq and now that Iraq’s reconstruction is on the agenda, we are ready to assist the Iraqi government and nation because we view Iraq’s security and prosperity as Iran’s own security and prosperity," Jahangiri said on Thursday.
The Iranian official said ties between Iran and Iraq had reached the highest possible level and could serve as an example for the region.
Referring to Iraq’s vital role in the Muslim world and the international community, Jahangiri said that it was fine Islamic and political leadership as well as a progressive Constitution that helped Iraq prevail.
He also called on all of Iraq’s ethnic, religious and political factions to remain united through the Constitution because unity was their only key to victory.
"This is the most important factor for Iraq’s advancement and the eradication of terror," he added.
The Iranian VP said Tehran and Baghdad needed to further increase their economic ties as well and break the $7-billion-dollar barrier in mutual trade.
President Masum said Iraq would always remember Iran’s assistance in the fight against terror and expressed hope that the cooperation would continue to include reconstruction efforts.
Expressing Baghdad’s desire to expand ties with allies and neighboring countries, Masum said he was looking forward to using Iran’s experience in dealing with various issues, ranging from banking to the environment.
"Baghdad welcomes Iranian investment in Iraq's economic projects and wants Iran's private sector to take on a more serious role in this regard," he noted.