A file photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during a visit to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Iraq for an official visit aimed at further expansion of bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, the Iranian president will hold two days of talks with senior Iraqi officials. He was officially welcomed upon his arrival in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, by Vice President Khudayr al-Khuzai at Baghdad airport.
During his stay, the Iranian president will meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Khuzai to exchange views on common areas of interest between the two nations.
Ahead of his visit, Ahmadinejad hailed Tehran-Baghdad ties as “exceptional” and underlined the significance of his trip in further strengthening the ties between the two nations.
“Following the downfall of the former and dictatorial regime of Iraq [under Saddam Hussein], which had hindered the expansion of ties between the two countries for a long time, we are currently witnessing rapid and all-out expansion of brotherly relations.”
Pointing to different areas of collaboration between Tehran and Baghdad, Ahmadinejad noted, “In the energy sector, there are good grounds for cooperation between the two countries, but potentials for cooperation between the two sides are several times higher than the current level of Tehran-Baghdad relations.”
The outgoing Iranian president is also expected to pay a visit to the holy Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf.
On July 14, Maliki’s spokesman, Ali Mussawi, said the Iranian president had been invited by the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, but he would be hosted by Khuzai, as Talabani is under medical treatment abroad.
The Iraqi president, who suffered a stroke in December 2012, has been absent from the country’s political scene while he receives treatment in Germany.