TEHRAN (Xinhua) – Iran and Iraq have renewed their calls for close and “brotherly” ties despite fresh US sanction pressure.
In a meeting on Saturday with visiting Iraqi President Barham Salih, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for strengthening relations with Iraq.
“The Islamic republic’s officials are very serious and determined on expanding ties with Iraq. I deeply believe in that too,” Mr Khamenei was quoted as saying by Tehran Times daily.
“A dear, powerful, independent, and developed Iraq would be very beneficial to Iran and we will stand by our Iraqi brothers,” said the top Iranian leader.
Mr Khamenei also urged unity among Iraqis as “a way for the country to triumph over enemies.”
“The only way to fight (enemies’) schemes is to preserve and boost unity among Iraqi groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis,” he said.
For his part, Mr Salih said that meeting with the leader of the Islamic republic was a “big pride” for him.
“I have come to Tehran with a clear and obvious message: that the factors and substances that bind the two nations of Iran and Iraq are rooted in history and are unchangeable,” said Mr Salih.
He said that the Iraqi government hopes to tap cooperation capacities with Iran to help the reconstruction of Iraq.
He also reiterated that Iraq would firmly counter any move by the United States and some reactionary countries in the region to undermine the unity between the two countries.