ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Prime Minister’s office on Sunday said Haider al-Abadi had canceled his trip to Iran, with reports of his Turkey visit to go as planned.
“Because of his busy schedule,” the Prime Minister is unable to visit Tehran, Abadi’s office had told AFP.
The statement comes a day after the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to an Iraqi official who claimed on Saturday that Abadi was to visit both neighboring countries’ capitals in the coming week.
Iran’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said they were not informed of any plans by the Iraqi Prime Minister to visit Tehran.
Meanwhile, the Turkish state-owned media outlet, TRT, said on Sunday that Abadi would discuss bilateral relations between the two countries in Ankara.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump said he would double steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey. The dispute between the NATO allies has caused the Turkish lira to drop 16 percent against the US dollar.
The Trump administration has called for the immediate release of the US pastor, Andrew Brunson, who Turkey arrested in the aftermath of the failed 2016 military coup attempt.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government charges Brunson, a Protestant evangelical pastor, with being involved in the putsch along with Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in the US.
Meanwhile, sanctions on Iran are related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear deal signed between Tehran and World powers which the US pulled out of in May.
The initial set of sanctions on Iran include a prohibition on Tehran’s acquisition and use of US dollars, trade in gold and other metals, as well as the import into the US of Iranian carpets and pistachios.
During a press briefing last week, Abadi said Iraq would not react to the US-Iran dispute but said Baghdad would abide by the sanctions “to protect the interests of our people.”
“As a matter of principle, we are against sanctions in the region. Blockade and sanctions destroy societies and do not weaken regimes,” the Iraqi Prime Minister stated at the press conference.
“We will not interact with them or support them, but we will abide by them.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany