ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, arrived in Baghdad on Monday for an official visit aimed at strengthening Iran’s ties to the country and deepen trade relations with Iraq.
This is the first visit by Rouhani to Baghdad, and before his departure from Tehran, the leader told Iranian media he aims to improve relations with the strategic neighboring country.
His visit is expected to raise eyebrows with US officials and regional allies. Amid ongoing Washington-imposed sanctions on Tehran, Iraq has resisted cutting off ties with Iran, whose influence has dominated politics in Baghdad for some years.
Rouhani, during his three-day visit, will reportedly ink several agreements with Iraqi officials in the fields of energy, transport, agriculture, industry, and health, according to Iran’s state news agency, IRNA.
“We are very much interested in expanding our ties ... particularly our transport cooperation,” Rouhani declared at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, before boarding.
The Iranian leader is scheduled to visit Shia shrines in Baghdad’s Kadhimiya district before heading to a welcoming ceremony, according to the press office of Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
Iraq is “another channel for Iran to bypass America’s unjust sanctions... This trip will provide opportunities for Iran’s economy,” a senior delegate accompanying Rouhani, told Reuters.
Rouhani’s visit comes months after the US imposed a second round of sanctions on Iran, in November 2018, targeting the financial and energy sectors of the country.
Editing by Nadia Riva