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Iran Foreign Minister says peace and stability in Iraq important for Iran


Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in a speech at the International Donors' Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq in Madrid on Friday that Iran attaches great importance to establishment of peace, security and stability as well as social and economic development in Iraq, IRNA reported.

He referred to the conference as an indication of solidarity of the international community with the people of Iraq in their quest towards establishment of a representative, democratic, responsible and accountable government which would live in peace and good neighborly relations with its neighbors and other members of the world community.

Kharrazi further pointed to the fact that over decades, developments in Iraq have had far-reaching impacts on Iran and other countries of the region and noted that the wounds, scars and images of Saddam's atrocities and invasions of Iran and later Kuwait are still fresh.

"That is why Iran accords great importance to and supports attempts at promotion of peace, security, stability, social development and economic prosperity in Iraq," he added.

Noting that for many years Iraq has posed serious threats to the regional as well as international peace and security, the foreign minister believed that "the creation of a stable and peaceful government in Iraq would benefit all the nations and in particular its neighbors."

"To this end, there exists the need to join forces to assist the people of Iraq so as to assist them to exercise their right to self-determination and to preserve the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Pointing out that there is an emerging consensus on the pivotal role of the United Nations in the post-Saddam Iraq as well as transfer of authority to its own citizens as soon as possible, he said high priority should be attached to the ownership of the process of reconstruction by Iraqi nation, recognition of the central and pivotal role of the Iraqi Governing Council and transfer of power to a constitutional government.

The foreign minister went on to stress that Iran was to actively participate and contribute to reconstruction of Iraq and said it has envisaged a comprehensive package of economic cooperation comprising of development aid, investments, trade, tourism, project financing and so on

According to Kharrazi, Iran's plan for tourism and pilgrimage "is expected to initially bring around dlrs 500 million in revenues each year by making necessary arrangements for travel of some 100 thousands tourists per month to visit Iraqi cultural and religious sites."

Iran's proposal for "road, rail and air links is intended to develop a transit potential for Iraq," and "to link its road and rail system to that of Iraq," while providing "port facilities for Iraq to give a chance for more access to the Persian Gulf and other trade and transit corridors, he said."

He also said that "given the significance of energy supply in humanitarian as well as rehabilitation efforts, Iran stands ready to supply its electricity and gas to Iraq and to facilitate its oil exports through Iran's oil terminals or enter into a swap arrangement that can amount to 350,000 barrels per day."

Kharrazi went on to tell the conference that Iran's package of aid also "includes up to dlrs 300 million credit facility in buyers and suppliers credit" as well as project financing and provision of goods, equipment and services and also contributions by individuals and non-governmental organizations to renovate religious sites.

Iran's aid to Iraq will also include educational, technical and capacity building assistance, humanitarian assistance, participation in oil and gas projects and making investments in Iraq's financial sector, the Iranian foreign minister said in conclusion.

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