ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called for Tehran and Baghdad to raise their gas and electricity agreements and boost bilateral trade to $20 billion per year, Iran’s state media reported.
Rouhani’s comment came during a press conference in Iran's capital following a meeting he held there with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
“The plans to export electricity and gas and hopefully oil continue and we are ready to expand these contacts not only for the two countries but also for other countries in the region,” he said, according to the IRNA news agency.
The US imposed the second round of its economic embargoes on Iran at the beginning of November, targeting the financial and energy sectors of the country and putting Baghdad, allies of both rival countries, in a difficult position.
Last month, Washington gave Iraq a 90-day waiver exempting it from sanctions to buy energy from Iran, the latest extension permitting Baghdad to keep purchasing electricity from its neighbor.
“We hope that our plans to expand trade volume to $20 billion will be realized within the next few months or years,” Rouhani added.
The current level of trade between Iraq and Iran stands at about $12 billion, according to Iranian media.
The two countries maintain robust political and economic relations. Over the past decade and a half, Baghdad has relied considerably on Tehran to fulfill its economic needs by importing food products and other goods.
The Iranian president said he also hoped that work on establishing a railway linking the two neighbors. The project, scheduled to commence in the coming months, was part of an agreement signed during Rouhani’s visit to Baghdad in mid-March.
Editing by John J. Catherine