Iraq’s Mahdi in Iran to Forge Deeper Ties with Islamic Republic
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is in Tehran for two days of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other officials. At a joint press conference on Saturday, the latter addressed the two’s shared stance on regional issues, such as “Al-Quds [Jerusalem] being the permanent capital of Palestine, [the] Golan [Heights] being an inseparable part of Syria and… the solution to the Yemeni crisis should be a political one.” Rouhani also called for Iran and Iraq to boost bilateral trade to $20 billion. Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged Mahdi to demand that US troops withdraw from Iraq, according to state media. Mahdi’s visit to the Iranian capital follows Rouhani’s first official visit to Baghdad in March. A senior Iranian official was quoted by Reuters as saying Iraq could be a “channel” for Tehran to “bypass” US sanctions reimposed by the Trump Administration after it withdrew the US from the 2015 multilateral deal aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The reimposition of sanctions is seen as contributing to a severe downturn in the Iranian economy.