Tehran and Baghdad have hailed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s historic three-day visit to Iraq as a “turning point” in efforts to strengthen “strategic” cooperation between the two neighbors based on non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, Iran and Iraq said they discussed regional issues, common challenges, fight against terrorism and ways to promote security, stability and economic cooperation in the region in line with the interests of its nations.
According to the statement, the two sides emphasized the need for the establishment of security in the Middle East as a contributing factor to the region’s economic growth and development.
It added that Iran and Iraq also expressed their firm determination to battle terrorism and organized crimes, which pose a threat to regional security and peace, calling for collective cooperation to uproot terrorism in all political, intellectual and financial aspects.
The two sides said they held important talks in a cordial and constructive atmosphere and expressed their willingness to enhance relations in various spheres, including politics, security, economy, healthcare, trade, culture, science and technology.
Iran and Iraq further emphasized that the 1975 Algiers Agreement and its attached protocols should be carefully implemented with goodwill and agreed to start joint operation to dredge Arvand Roud as soon as possible.
The 1975 Algiers Agreement (commonly known as the Algiers Accord, sometimes as the Algiers Declaration) was an agreement between Iran and Iraq to settle their border disputes and conflicts (such as the Shatt al-Arab, known as Arvand Roud in Iran), and it served as basis for the bilateral treaties signed on June 13, 1975.
Last night, PM hosted dinner w/unprecedented guest list—a who's who of Iraqi politics: All Iraqis are our friends;— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 12, 2019
Today leaders issued historic joint declaration:
-Commitment to implement 1975 Treaty
-Expeditious dredging of border river:
Removed another vestige of Saddam war.
In a post on his official Twitter account on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed to the “historic joint declaration” and said the two sides urged commitment to the implementation of the 1975 Treaty and the expeditious dredging of the border river.
‘US, major powers hatching plot after plot against nations’
Earlier on Tuesday, the Iranian president said big powers, particularly the United States, have constantly been hatching plots against Middle Eastern nations.
“Like in the past, Iran is ready to take steps to solve regional problems and promote dialog and interactions among regional countries,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Leader of Iraq's National Wisdom Movement Ammar al-Hakim in Baghdad on Tuesday, the second day of his visit to the neighboring country.
He called on Iranian and Iraqi officials to make more efforts to fulfill their duties towards the two nations.
The Iranian president further said Tehran and Baghdad play an influential role in the region, adding that the two sides should make plans in accordance with the current circumstances in the region as well as common goals and work to strengthen bilateral cooperation in all fields.
Enhanced Iran ties help Iraq’s development, reconstruction: Hakim
The Iraqi official, for his part, said Iraq has managed to overcome major challenges, adding that further expansion of relations with Iran can help accelerate Iraq’s reconstruction and development.
He stressed the importance of maintaining unity and coherence among various political groups in Iraq and emphasized that the National Wisdom Movement feels duty-bound to resist against anti-Iran media propaganda and excessive demands of arrogant powers from the Islamic Republic.
Rouhani is in Baghdad at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation on his first visit to the country since 2013. The trip is aimed at solidifying strategic ties despite US efforts to keep the two neighbors apart and curb Iran's influence in the region.
Iran and Iraq on Monday signed five memorandums of understanding for the expansion of bilateral cooperation in various economic and healthcare sectors.
The documents were signed by senior officials of the two countries in the presence of President Rouhani and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad.
Hashd al-Sha’abi plays key role in Iraq national unity: Rouhani
The Iranian president also said on Tuesday that Iraq’s pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known in Arabic as Hashd al-Sha’abi, plays a highly important role in fighting terrorism, establishing national security and reinforcing unity in the Arab country.
In a meeting with Faleh al-Fayyad, the PMU head and Iraq’s National Security Advisor, Rouhani added that the Iraqi nation’s fight against terrorists was a source of pride for the Muslim world.
The Iraqi official, for his part, said the Iranian president’s visit to Iraq would serve the two nations' interests.
The expansion of cooperation between Iran and Iraq would prepare the ground for major developments in the Middle East, Fayyad added.
He emphasized that Iraq always considers itself as a defender of the Islamic Republic in different areas and is proud of neighboring Iran’s political, economic, regional and international achievements.
In November 2016, the Iraqi parliament voted to integrate Hashd al-Sha’abi, which was formed shortly after the emergence of Daesh, into the military.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi stressed on November 5 last year that efforts were underway to find financial sources to support Hashd al-Sha’abi forces.