Iraq says stands by Iran against US sanctions

Monitoring Desk

BAGHDAD: Iraq stands by Iran against U.S. sanctions, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim said Sunday.

Alhakim held talks in Baghdad with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, who arrived in the Iraqi capital on Saturday for discussions with Iraqi officials.

The top Iraqi diplomat said bilateral relations between Baghdad and Tehran were the focus of Zarif’s visit to Iraq.

“We are against the U.S. sanctions against Iran,” Alhakim said.

“We believe economic sanctions against Iran are not helpful,” he said. “Communications are underway with regional states to reach a satisfactory solution to all parties.”

Zarif, for his part, described his talks with Iraqi officials as “very good”.

He said both Tehran and Baghdad have started to build a railway between the two countries. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have mounted steadily since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).

The Trump administration has also re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors, while Iran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to U.S. oil shipments.

Iran says offered ‘non-aggression pact’ with Gulf: Iran has offered to sign a non-aggression pact with its Gulf neighbors, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday.

“We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one,” Zarif told a joint press conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohamed Alhakim.

“We will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

“Tehran has offered to sign a non-aggression pact with its neighbors in the Gulf,” the Iranian minister said, going on to stress that Iran wants to “build balanced relations” with all Gulf states.

Zarif, who arrived in Iraq on Saturday for a three-day visit, said Iran does not seek any military escalation in the region.

“We are ready to accept any initiative aimed at reducing escalation and building constructing relations with all neighboring countries,” he said.

He also called on the Europeans to activate a mechanism for trade with Iran and to do more efforts to maintain the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Iran has not violated the nuclear agreement, but talks are not enough to maintain the deal,” he said. (AA)