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Zarif in Baghdad as Iraq President Prepares for Regional Trips

Zarif in Baghdad as Iraq President Prepares for Regional Trips

Sunday, 26 May, 2019 - 06:15
Iraqi President Barham Salih. (Reuters)
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif arrived in Baghdad on Saturday as Iraqi President Barham Salih prepared to embark on a regional tour that would take him to Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The visits are all aimed at easing the simmering tensions between the United States and Iran after President Donald Trump tightened economic sanctions against Iran, and his administration says it has built up the US military presence in the region. It accuses Iran of threats to US troops and interests.

Salih’s visit follows a trip made by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to Kuwait. The president had also paid a visit to Jordan.

A member of Iraq’s parliamentary foreign relations committee said that the trips were aimed at defusing tensions that were “taking Iraq to the brink of war.”

Discussions tackled trade and economic affairs should a flare-up take place in the future, he revealed.

Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi is also set to travel to the US and Iran.

Former MP Haidar al-Malla told Asharq Al-Awsat that the speaker will seek to ease tensions and avert a major clash.

“We are confronted with one singular truth: Iran must either sit at the negotiations table to address its regional influence … or it must deal with an unavoidable military strike,” he said.

Officials are “biding their time” by talking about mediations as all signs indicate that the region will be faced with either the negotiations or military strike options after the end of the holy month of Ramadan, he added.

Meanwhile, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Baghdad must not remain neutral in the crisis between the US and Iran.

He said after meeting Halbusi that such a neutral stance was no longer needed after Iran announced that it was not seeking war.

The region is facing major challenges and efforts must be exerted to avert escalation, he stressed.

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