Iran foreign minister praises Iraq efforts as regional mediator

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein speaks in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) in Baghdad, April 26, 2021. (Iraqi foreign ministry photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday praised Iraq’s efforts aimed at bolstering regional stability, after Baghdad hosted talks between Riyadh and Tehran earlier this month.

Zarif visited Baghdad on Monday morning and met with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, President Barham Salih and Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi.

“We welcome Iraq’s vital role in the region and we hope that day after day that strengthens Iraq’s role for the stability of the region,” Zarif said in a joint press conference with Hussein, according to AP.

His comments came after senior Iranian and Saudi officials held direct talks in Baghdad earlier this month. The talks signaled a possible de-escalation following years of animosity that often spilled into neighboring countries.

Zarif did not confirm the meeting was held in Iraq, but he thanked the Iraqi government for “exerting its efforts”.

“We hope that these efforts will lead to more negotiations and understandings in the region,” he added.

Zarif further said all foreign powers would eventually leave, noting that “we will stay here and we should base our relations on good neighborhood, no interference and mutual respect.”

The Iraqi foreign minister, for his part, said Iraq’s policy was to build “balanced relations with everyone and calm things”, the Associated Press reported.

A foreign diplomatic in Riyadh told Reuters this week that Saudi and Iranian officials plan to meet again late April or early May.

Neither Riyadh nor Tehran, who cut diplomatic ties in 2016, have publicly confirmed or denied a first meeting in Iraq earlier this month.

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