Iran's acting FM Ali Akbar Salehi (right) with Ibrahim Jafari, head of Shi'te faction of Iraq's Parliament
Iran's state-run media says acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has told Iraqi officials that foreign powers must leave their country as soon as possible.
He commented Wednesday during a Baghdad news conference with Iraqi Foreign
Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in what is Salehi's first trip to Iraq since its new
government was sworn in last month.
Iran's IRNA news agency quotes Salehi as saying Tehran believes in Iraq's "territorial integrity, stability and independence." He also said Iraq could guarantee its independence without foreign forces.
Last August, the U.S. formally ended a combat mission in Iraq that began when coalition forces moved into Baghdad during the 2003 Gulf War. About 50,000 U.S. troops remain in the country. U.S. President Barack Obama says all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of this year.
Salehi traveled to Iraq for talks with senior officials on bilateral relations and regional issues. News reports say he will also meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani.
Aswat al-Iraq news quotes Zebari as saying a demarcation of borders between the two countries is among the issues he discussed with Salehi.
The meetings come a day after Salehi met with a high-ranking Iraqi lawmaker in Tehran. Iran's state-run IRNA news agency says Salehi told former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari the current trade level of about $7 billion between the two countries was not adequate. Mr. Jaafari heads the Iraqi parliament's Shi'ite coalition.
Iran and Iraq fought a brutal war in the1980's but relations have improved in recent years.
... Payvand News - 01/05/11 ... --