July 22, 2020
A clear disparity in the priorities was revealed Tuesday during Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s visit to Tehran as he confirmed his keenness to build a policy based on goodwill in the relations with neighboring countries, while Iran was interested in the economic side of the ties.
Kadhimi had been scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia for his first trip abroad, before heading to Iran. However, his trip to Riyadh was postponed after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz was admitted to hospital for medical tests.
In a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Kadhimi said the Iraqi people are eager for relations with Iran, according to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.
He said Iraq is looking for stability and must be strong and stable to be supportive of neighboring countries and the region.
For his part, Rouhani stressed the commercial activity between the two countries, hoping that Iraq would increase the level of its commercial activities with Iran, which currently ranges between $8-10 billion, to $20 billion per year.
“It was decided during the meeting of President Hassan Rouhani and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to raise the volume of trade exchange between the two countries to 20 billion dollars annually,” said Mahmoud Wazi, Director of the President’s office.
Rouhani said he discussed with Kadhimi regional issues and the role that Iraq can play as a strong country on the regional level.
The PM also met with supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who stressed that “Iran wants a decent and independent Iraq, while preserving its territorial integrity.”
Although Khamenei said that Iran does not interfere in Iraqi-American relations, he asserted that Tehran expects its Iraqi “friends to bear in mind that the presence of the US in any country will bring about corruption, ruin and destruction.”
The Iranian leader said the Americans do not care who the prime minister of Iraq is, rather “they only want to establish a government like the one formed by Paul Bremer, the former American ruler of Iraq just after Saddam’s downfall.”
Khamenei said Tehran expects the decision by the Iraqi government, nation and parliament to expel the Americans to be implemented because their presence leads to insecurity.
Head of the Center for Political Thinking Dr. Ihssan al-Shmary told Asharq Al- Awsat that Kadhimi sought during his visit to prove that his country hopes to become a platform for balance in its foreign relations based on sovereignty and mutual interests.