Tehran, Iran – Iraq’s foreign minister, Fuad Hussein, has held high-level talks with Iranian officials with justice for the American assassination of Iran’s top general a major point of discussion.
Iran requested the international police organisation to arrest former US President Donald Trump and 47 other American officials identified as playing a role in the killing of General Qassem Soleimani last year in a US drone attack near Baghdad’s airport.
Hussein and his delegation met with Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also welcomed the formation of a joint economic cooperation commission as they discussed improving economic and political ties.
According to the foreign ministry, Zarif said he hopes the two countries could implement agreements on banking, industrial cities, border marketplaces, transit, and Iraqi debts to Iran that were finalised when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani travelled to Iraq in March 2019.
The neighbouring countries’ ties have been affected by the Soleimani killing in Iraq and harsh United States sanctions imposed in 2018 on Iran after Trump unilaterally abandoned Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Hussein’s trip to Tehran is his first since US President Joe Biden’s administration took power and promised to restore the nuclear deal.
Hussein led a delegation to Iran in late September 2020, which agreed to form the joint economic commission and boost bilateral relations.
Zarif also welcomed Iraqi efforts to judicially pursue the murder of Soleimani who was assassinated by a Trump-ordered drone attack in January 2020. No details of those moves by Baghdad were given.
“Ending the presence of American troops in the region would be the best reaction to this terrorist act,” the foreign minister said.
Hussein reportedly told Zarif Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is focused on improving ties with Iran.
The Iraqi diplomat and his delegation also met with Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of National Security.
Shamkhani also told Hussein Iran intends to continue to pursue justice for Soleimani’s death and wants all previous agreements with Iraq to be implemented in full.
The top security official also pointed out that security and stability in the neighbouring nations are intertwined.
“The increase and stabilisation of the might and rule of the Iraqi government lies in establishing order and implementing the law in order to overcome the country’s political, economic and security challenges,” he said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news.
Iraq has been rocked by political instability in recent years, and tragedy most recently struck Baghdad in late January when a twin suicide bombing killed dozens in an attack claimed by ISIL (ISIS).
Hussein also met with Rouhani on Wednesday, who told him he wants to boost Iran-Iraq trade to the previous set target of $20bn per year.
Rouhani also said Iran wants to quickly resolve operational issues surrounding a rail line that connects Iran’s Shalamche to Iraq’s Basra as it regards it as a “fully economic and commercial” project that also strengthens the two countries’ transportation lines.
The president referred to the assassination of Soleimani, who was accompanied with Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at the time, as “an example of the most shameful foreign interference in Iraqi affairs that was conducted in the form of state terrorism and targeted champions of achieving victory over ISIS”.
Rouhani expressed hope that the Biden administration will come to realise that it will not benefit from its presence in the region and will leave.
The Iraqi foreign minister reportedly told the president that his trip to Baghdad was “historic” and set the grounds for deepening bilateral ties between the two countries that fought a deadly eight-year war in the 1980s when Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein.
“Based on agreements between the two countries’ officials, dealings and ties across a variety of economic and trade areas are being pursued as Iraq wishes to expand relations with Iran,” he was quoted as saying by the president’s website.