Iranian foreign minister on Sunday described Baghdad’s “positive stances” on ties with Tehran as the main factor behind strengthening of relations between the two neighbors.
Upon his arrival in Baghdad, Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed “positive stances” adopted by the Iraqi officials towards the unilateral sanctions reimposed by the United States against Iran following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
This is my first visit to Iraq after the formation of the new government in the Arab country, Zarif told reporters, according to IRNA.
“During the Iraq visit, we will explore the areas of expansion of relations and cooperation”, he said.
Following the victory over the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq, some countries, particularly the US, created obstacles in the way of expansion of Tehran-Baghdad cooperation with the aim of harming relations between the two countries, but they failed to do it, Zarif said.
Zarif said US is a “losing horse”, advising the countries not to bet on the “wrong horse”.
Iraq’s foreign minister said recently that his country is "not obliged" to abide by sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and would be pursuing options to continue bilateral trade.
On December 20, the US granted Baghdad a 90-day extension to a waiver on abiding by the sanctions that were reimposed on the Islamic Republic in November.
Trade between the two neighboring countries is thought to amount to around $12bn, while Iran provides around 40 percent of Iraq's electricity needs.
Although Iraq faces possible censure by the US if it fails to cease its trading with Iran by the end of the waiver period, Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim said his country could continue relations with Iran.
"These sanctions, the siege, or what is called the embargo, these are unilateral, not international. We are not obliged (to follow) them," he said, speaking to a gathering of journalists on January 3.
The Iranian top diplomat added that he will meet Iraqi officials during his visit and will attend three trade conferences attended by both countries’ private sectors in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah and Karbala.
Managers and heads of dozens of major private and public companies are accompanying the foreign minister.