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Iraqi president calls Iran important regional player, underlines need for reconciliation between Tehran, Arab countries

Iraqi President Barham Salih (Photo by Reuters)

Iraqi President Barham Salih has stressed the need for the promotion of cordial and amicable relations between Iran and Arab states, saying that the Islamic Republic is a very important player in the Middle East region.

“Iran is a major major actor in that part of the world; and ... we (Iraq) have long borders with Iran. We have all kinds of interactions, social, cultural , [as well as] common security interests,” Salih said in an exclusive interview with CNN news network broadcast on Sunday.

He emphasized that Baghdad and Tehran have vital national interests and are developing good bilateral relations.

“We do not want to go back to the days of [slain Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein, when we were at war with our neighbor. We fought eight years…,” he said.

The Iraqi president went on to note that his country plays a very important role in pushing for a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

"There have been a number of conversations that have taken place in Baghdad between [delegates from] Iran and other Arab neighbors," Salih said, adding that the atmosphere has been improved.

He underlined the need for resolving issues through diplomacy, saying, "At the end of the day, we need to sit down at the same table and talk the problems."   

The Iraqi leader also touched on the negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying, There should be a nuclear agreement with Iran, just as it is necessary to establish some kind of reconciliation between Iran and Arab countries.

He added that the Middle East region needs a security order that can bring countries together to fight terrorism, which remains a huge problem.

The remarks come days after Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi said all Arab countries are seeking to improve diplomatic relations with Iran on the basis of mutual respect as well as the principle of good neighborliness.

“Jordan and other Arab countries affirm that they want healthy relations with Iran, which are anchored in mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs and the principle of good neighborliness,” Safadi said.

“Dialogue is the best policy to address the existing tensions,” he told the Saudi-owned Arabic-language Asharq News television station, adding, “the region has enough crises and we do not need more tensions."

"There must be real solutions to the causes of tensions in order to develop healthy relations that we all want with Iran.”

Safadi also dismissed the existence of any talks on the formation of an anti-Iran Middle Eastern military alliance similar to NATO, which would include Israel.

“However, all of us in the region feel that we need to strengthen Arab cooperation mechanisms, and institutions that are capable of serving our interests and attaining the best for our nations and countries,” he added.

The top diplomat went on to say that Amman would welcome any proposal that can serve common Arab interests.

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