TEHRAN, Sept. 6 (Mehr News Agency) - Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said here on Tuesday that Iraq-Iran relations are intertwined and the two countries are determined to strengthen bilateral ties.
"Under the previous Iraqi dictatorship, there were some problems in relations with Iran, but the two countries currently enjoy satisfactory and cordial ties," Salih told a joint conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Manucher Mottaki.
He added that his visit is meant to boost mutual cooperation.
The stability of Iraq will benefit the international security and it is necessary for Iraq, Iran, and the United States to reach a regional compromise, he added.
"Iran, the regional countries, Iraq's neighbors, the U.S. and the European countries can help establish stability in Iraq," he said.
Asked about the number of Iranian prisoners in Iraqi jails, he said that a number of Iranians who had entered Iraq illegally are held in detention and the Iraqi officials are making efforts for their release.
Meanwhile, Mottaki said that Tehran considers Iraq's development and security as its own.
He dismissed rumors that Iran is interfering in Iraqi internal affairs, saying the two countries enjoy "intimate, brotherly, and neighborly relations."
"The security of Iraq will benefit the entire region, therefore we will always stand beside the Iraqi nation and government as we did during the formation of the new government," he stated.
He said the hidden hands that foment insecurity in Iraq must be stopped. He also called for a withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq.
The Iranian top diplomat reiterated that Tehran is ready to help Iraq in its efforts to establish peace and security.
The two countries are making efforts to step up trade exchanges and bolster economic, energy, oil, and railway cooperation, the minister noted.
He said that Iran is building a 140-megawatt power plant in Iraq.
Mottaki also added that the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's visit to Iran is still on the agenda.
Iraq deputy PM meets Rafsanjani
Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in Tehran on Wednesday that the recent developments in Iraq will provide a valuable and historic opportunity for the Middle East region.
"If Iraq becomes a free, developed, and independent country under the religion of Islam, all the regional developments will change to the benefit of the Iraqis," Rafsanjani told visiting Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih.
However, Rafsanjani said the interference of the foreigners and chaos in Iraq can create insecurity for the entire region, he added.
He called for a rapid withdrawal of the occupiers, saying, "The Iraqi people have realized the value of freedom and will not allow the foreigners to leave a negative influence on their freedom."
The prime need of the Iraqis after establishing security is to reconstruct the country and tackle economic problems, he noted.
Development of Iraq will benefit its neighbors too and Iran will spare no efforts to help the neighboring country, Rafsanjani said.
For his part, the Iraqi official said that the two countries are determined to use all the potential to strengthen cooperation.
"The new Iraq is seeking to live with its neighbors calmly and cordially," Salih added.
He said the Iraqi government is doing its utmost to establish security and repair the damages in the war-torn country.
... Payvand News - 9/6/06 ... --