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Raeisi: Any terrorist, separatist provocation threat to regional security

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudan (L) shakes hands with Iran's President Ebrahim Raeisi in Tehran on November 29, 2022. (File by AFP)

President Ebrahim Raeisi of Iran says any act of provocation by terrorist and separatist groups undermines regional security and will not be tolerated.

In a phone conversation with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani of Iraq on Saturday, Raeisi said Tehran and Baghdad have been strengthening relations of security cooperation for sustainable peace.

He lauded great efforts by the Iraqi government and nation to facilitate the Arba’een mourning ceremony, the largest annual religious gathering in the world, and to kindly host Iranian pilgrims. He said the ceremonies were a manifestation of unity and resistance of Muslims.

Arba’een marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him), the third Shia Imam, and his 72 companions in the Battle of Karbala in southern Iraq in 680 AD. It brings together millions of people from across the world, who undertake an 80-kilometer walk between the holy Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala.

The Iranian president also hailed the start of construction work on a railway project linking Iraq’s Basra with the Iranian border town of Shalamcheh.

Raeisi appreciated the Iraqi government's efforts to implement the cross-border railway project which would facilitate and boost commercial exchanges and improve security of pilgrimage between the two countries.

Iran and Iraq signed an agreement for the construction of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway in 2021 after being in the pipeline for many years. Prior to this, plans were shelved in 2014, the same year that Daesh Takfiri terrorists overran large swathes of land in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

After repeated delays, efforts were revived in April with Baghdad and Tehran agreeing to implement the railway link during a meeting between Iraqi Minister of Transport Razzaq Mohibis al-Saadawi and Iranian Minister of Roads and Housing Mehrdad Bazrpash in the Iranian capital. The railway project will reportedly become operational within the next 18 months.

Sudani, for his part, reiterated commitment of the Iraqi government and nation to fight against all the elements who pose a threat to sustainable security in the region. The Iraqi prime minister said the massive participation of the Iranian pilgrims in Arba’een mourning ceremony exposed the strong common beliefs of the Iranian and Iraqi nations.

He said the beginning of Shalamcheh-Basra railway construction shows the Iraqi government's firm determination to enhance relations with Iran in all fields.

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