Iran and Iraq are “determined” to boost their bilateral trade to $20 billion, President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday after holding talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran in his first visit abroad since taking power in May.
“I am sure that this trip will be a watershed in the development of Iran-Iraq relations… and we are determined to increase the volume of trade between the two countries to $20 billion,” Rouhani told a joint press conference with Kadhimi.
Rouhani said Iran and Iraq “witnessed a good move in trade relations” since Kadhimi took office as prime minister.
He said the two neighbors are “resolute” in implementing all agreements they reached in March 2019 including the connection of the Shalamcheh railway in southwest Iran to Iraq’s port city of Basra, and the dredging of the Arvand River along their border.
The president stressed that Iran will continue to work with Iraq for the stability and security of the Arab country and the region as it in previous years stood by the Iraqi nation in the fight against the Daesh terror group.
Kadhimi arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for a two-day visit. He is expected to meet Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, among top-ranking officials.
His delegation includes Iraq's ministers of foreign affairs, finance, health and planning, as well as his national security adviser.
The prime minister's trip to Tehran comes after receiving Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif in Baghdad on Sunday.
No threat from Iraq
Kadhimi said at the press conference that his trip is aimed at “strengthening bilateral relations” at the time when both nations face challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak and falling oil prices .
He added that Iraq wants to have “excellent relations” with Iran “based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the two countries”.
Kadhimi stressed that Iraq “will never allow any threat from its territory to the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
The prime minister noted that Iraq will “never forget” Iran’s help in the battle against terrorists, adding that Baghdad is standing by Tehran to overcome its economic challenges.
“Iraq's ties with Iran and other countries are based on goodwill and we try to find ways to help the region out of current challenges through cooperation,” Kadhimi said.
He also expressed hope that agreements between the two countries will go operational as soon as possible for the benefit of the both nations.