Iran, Iraq Poised to Boost Trade by $8bn
TEHRAN (FNA)- President Hassan Rouhani said Iran and Iraq can boost economic transactions to $20 billion through further cooperation and an $8 billion increase in the volume of bilateral trade.
President Rouhani made the remarks in a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih on Saturday in Tehran, which was held after their bilateral meeting earlier that day.
The Iranian president maintained that the two sides held talks on electricity and gas swap, as well as cooperation on petroleum products and oilfield exploration and extraction.
The Shalamcheh-Basra railway is ready to come on stream, and the Iranian side is ready to carry out its side of the project together with the help of measures taken by Iraq’s Ministry of Finance, said Rouhani, adding that the 35km-railway will facilitate transport for the people of both countries.
Rouhani said the two sides also talked about environmental issues, noting the dust storms in western and eastern borders that need joint cooperation to be resolved. He added that Iraqi President Barham Salih has vowed to follow up on those environmental issues.
"We reached an agreement to establish a free trade zone between the two countries," Rouhani added.
He further maintained that the two sides conferred on regional issues, saying the two believed that stability and security in the region will benefit all people, and there is no need for foreign interference in regional affairs.
The Iraqi president, for his part in the presser, highlighted that Iraq would never forget Iran’s support in defeating terrorism in the country.
After the military defeat of the ISIL, Iraq has ahead of itself the two important objectives of "reconstruction" and "strengthening of political stability", he added.
President Salih maintained that the realization of these two goals requires political and economic measures and reforms, as well as stable conditions in the region.
It is time for the formation of a new regional order which can be in the interest of all regional states, President Salih stressed, adding that Iraq attaches high significance to Iran’s role and place in this new regional order.
He further voiced hope that the implementation of joint projects such as railway connections between Iran and Iraq could provide the necessary condition for Iraq to play a more active role in the region, and allow other countries in the region to form relations based on mutual interests.
Iraq's parliament elected the veteran Kurdish politician, Barham Salih, as the country's new president in late September, a step toward forming a new government nearly five months after national elections.
Salih named independent Shia candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister-designate, after an inconclusive national election in May.
Iran and Iraq enjoy very close ties in the post-Saddam era and early in September, Advisor to the Iranian Parliament Speaker Hossein Amir Abdollahian underlined that Tehran and Baghdad enjoy strategic relations, blaming foreign hands for the recent unrest and attack on Iran's consulate in Basra.
“There are clear traces of the complicity of foreign agents of the region’s warmongers in the incident of arson attack on the consulate of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Basra,” Amir Abdollahian wrote on his twitter page.
“British Shiite and Saudi Wahhabism won’t be allowed to drag Iraq into chaos. Tehran-Baghdad relations are strategic,” he added.
On September 21, Amir Abdollahian blasted the US for trying to hamper the relations between Tehran and Baghdad, and said the ties between Iran and Iraq are strategic.
Iraqi media outlets released several audio files showing the Saudi intelligence agencies' footprints in the recent unrests in Basra city in Southern Iraq.
The Arabic-language al-Ahd news channel released the audio files on Saturday, revealing that Saudi Arabia has been running spying attempts to earn intelligence superiority in Iraq.
One of the files indicated that the Saudi intelligence agency has recruited several people in Iraq to be used in sensitive conditions, including the recent unrests in Basra, to monitor the police and security forces' moves in the region.
They showed that the Iraqi spies provided a Saudi officer, named Abu Khalid al-Saudi, with intelligence about the trafficking and deployment of security forces and army and police commanders in return for money and gifts.
The audio files also disclosed that the Saudi intelligence agency has created an extensive network of spies in Western, Central and Northern Iraq in addition to the Southern parts of the country.
Iraqis in Southern areas of the country are demonstrating against lack of public services in poor areas and the angry protestors have set many government buildings and diplomatic missions in Basra on fire.
Protesters stormed the Iranian consulate in Southern Iraq's city of Basra, setting it on fire as part of demonstrations against lack of services and jobs in which several government buildings have been ransacked and torched.
Demonstrators on Friday broke into the consulate building in Basra which was empty when the crowd burst in.
Iraqi security officials announced a citywide curfew in Basra, a city of two million people, warning that "anyone present in the street" would be arrested.
source : farsnews