EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to visit Baghdad at the head of a politico-economic delegation on Monday for a three-day visit aimed at strengthening political, economic and cultural ties.
According to Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, the president will meet top Iraqi officials, including President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Speaker of the Council of Representatives Mohammed al-Halbousi as well as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shia religious authority in the holy city of Najaf.
“The accompanying ministers will also hold sessions with their counterparts,” he added.
Masjedi said the proposed Khorramshahr-Basra Railroad, industrial towns, visa regulations, border treaties, customs issues and health and medical services are on the agenda of talks, IRNA reported.
On Saturday, during a ceremony to receive the credentials of the new Iraqi ambassador in Tehran, Rouhani described the two countries’ relations as exemplary, hoping that their cordial ties would serve as a useful model for promotion of amity in the whole region, according to Financial Tribune.
“There are great capacities to further improve cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad,” he said.
He expressed hope that the two sides would reach important agreements during his trip to help boost their ties.
Abdul-Rahman Saad Jawad Qandeel, the new Iraqi envoy, also said Iran is an important country with which Baghdad seeks to expand relations.
“Iraq is prepared for a fruitful visit by the Iranian president and we hope the agreements in this trip would be important steps toward closer ties,” he said.
This will be Rouhani’s first trip to Iraq during his five years in office, which is expected to mark "a turning point” in Tehran-Baghdad relations.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdolnasser Hemmati had earlier traveled to the neighboring country.
Iraqi high-level officials have also come to Iran, including Halbousi who visited Tehran last Wednesday.
President Salih had visited Tehran on Nov. 17, about two weeks after assuming office. This was also nearly two weeks after the United States imposed sanctions on Iranian oil and banking sectors.
As part of its pressure campaign, Washington is seeking to restrict Tehran’s international trade, including with Iraq which is the country’s top trade partner in the region.
Tehran, on the other hand, has adopted countermeasures to preserve and expand its relations with other countries.
Kamal Dehqani, deputy chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said the exchange of visits marks a new era in the two countries’ history of relations.
“This means entering a new phase of cooperation whose results would benefit the two nations as well as the neighboring countries,” he told ISNA.