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Iraqi chief banker in Iran to discuss debt: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Photo published on the website of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) shows senior banking delegations from Iran and Iraq meeting in CBI headquarters in Tehran on February 24, 2022.

A senior banking delegation from Iraq led by the country’s chief banker have held talks with Iranian authorities in Tehran as a report suggest that negotiations between the two neighboring countries have focused on Iraq’s plan to settle a multi-billion dollar debt to Iran in the very near future.

A Thursday report by the IRIB News said that a meeting between Iraq’s Central Bank Governor Mustafa Ghaleb and his Iranian counterpart Ali Salehabadi earlier in the day had apparently focused on the settlement of arrears Iraq owe to Iran for energy imports in recent years.

That comes as Iraq is waiting for the outcome of ongoing talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna as the two sides seek to revive a major international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, known as the JCPOA.

JCPOA’s revival will allow the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) to repatriate nearly $5 billion in Iranian funds that have remained inaccessible in the bank for the past years because of US sanction on Tehran.

TBI chief Salem Chalabi, as well as a senior advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, accompanied Ghaleb in his trip to Tehran.

The Iraqi delegation had met Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber on Thursday, said a report by the official IRNA news agency without elaborating on more details.

Iran’s chief banker Salehabadi said after meeting with his Iraqi counterpart that the two countries had reached good agreements on expanding their banking and financial relations.

“We hope the expansion of bilateral banking ties can cause an increase in the size of economic relations between Iran and Iraq,” said Salahabadi after the meeting.

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