FM Zarif: US officials have no right to meddle in Iran-Iraq ties
Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif says US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- who was recently on an anti-Iran tour of the Middle East -- and other American officials have no right to meddle in neighborly and deep-rooted ties between Iran and Iraq.
Zarif made the remarks following a business forum in the Iraqi city of Najaf on Thursday, adding that Iran's relations with Iraq, unlike those of certain other states, are "not fake."
The two neighbors have had ties since before the United States came into existence and will maintain their relations in the future, the top Iranian diplomat said.
Zarif arrived in Iraq on Sunday for talks with senior officials in Baghdad and the country's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on ways to enhance cooperation in different areas, over a year after Iraq managed to clear its entire soil of Daesh terrorists on the back of a Tehran-backed military campaign.
The Iranian minister further highlighted the contrast between Pompeo's recent unannounced visit to Iraq and that of his own.
He described his trip to Iraq as his "lengthiest ever" visit to a foreign country, hailing it as a sign of "special relations" between the two nations.
"I can confidently say that Iran-Iraq relations have a bright future," the minister said.
"The affinities between the Iranian and Iraqi nations are cultural and historical. The blood of their youths has mingled amid their fight against terrorism; therefore, no power can divide them," he added.
"Outsiders forced their way into this region one day, but they will eventually leave. It is the regional nations that will remain," said Zarif. "We must not allow the parties that do not favor better conditions for us to hinder Iran-Iraq relations."
Zarif's visit follows that of Pompeo, who visited Baghdad and Erbil as part of a seven-day tour of the Middle East, which had a hostile anti-Iran agenda.
Prior to Pompeo, US President Donald Trump had paid a controversial secret visit to American troops in Iraq, which triggered wave of condemnations from the Arab country's political and military leaders.
In Iraq, Pompeo made no official mention of Iran, but he repeatedly attacked Iran in his other destinations.
Pompeo described the US as a force for good in the Middle East, and accused former US President Barack Obama of having sowed chaos by abandoning the Middle East.
Zarif scolded his US counterpart and said actually the opposite of Pompeo's comments was true. Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression, and resentment follow, he tweeted last week.
Since its withdrawal in May 2018 of the Iran nuclear deal, the US has been putting pressure on Baghdad to decrease its trade ties with Tehran.
Baghdad -- which heavily relies on Iranian electricity and natural gas imports to meet its energy needs -- has said it is "not obliged" to abide by unilateral US sanctions against Iran.
It says it is considering options to bypass those bans and maintain trade ties with its neighbor.
'US cannot harm Iraq-Iran alliance'
Commenting on Zarif's remarks, spokesman of Iraq's Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba Hashim al-Mousawi, in an interview with Press TV, described Iran-Iraq ties as not only political but also "intellectual, religious, spiritual and friendly."
"There are continuous coordination and cooperation between the two sides whether politically, militarily or economically," he told Press TV.
He further pointed to Washington's attempt to "provoke" the Arab world against Iran, stressing, however, that the US will to bring Iraq on board in the hostile pressure campaign.
"Iraq will not let go of [its] alliance with Iran, because Iran has stood with the people of Iraq" during difficult times, Mousawi added.
Source: Press TV