Iraq warns Iran it doesn’t want ‘interference’ in internal affairs

Baghdad, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- Iraq’s foreign minister Fuad Hussein on Sunday warned his Iranian counterpart that the country does not want “interference” in its internal affairs.

He also stressed the need to protect Iraq’s sovereignty during Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s first visit to Baghdad this year.

“Zarif assured me that Iran’s wish is for a strong Iraq and I reminded him that our wish is for there to be no interference in our internal affairs,” Hussein said in a joint televised appearance at the end of the meeting.

He also stressed the “need to keep Iraq out of international tensions to protect its sovereignty” in reference to an escalation of tensions earlier this year between the United States and Iran over the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani in January.

It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since Soleimani’s killing and the formation of Iraq’s new government.

Iraqi state television showed images of the Iranian politician after his arrival at Baghdad International Airport, where he posed with a photograph of Soleimani at a memorial site near to where the general was killed.

The incident sparked an exchange of attacks between Washington and Iran on Iraqi soil, prompting rejection by the authorities and much of the population.

“Iran-Iraq relations will never be shaken,” Zarif said at the appearance, praising “the role Iraq plays in the region”.

The head of Iranian diplomacy said Soleimani’s killing was a “great loss” in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group, which operates in Iraq and Syria.

Zarif also met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, who said in a statement that his country “cooperates with its allies in the framework of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs” and praised Iran’s efforts in the fight against terrorism.

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