TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Leader of Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement Seyed Ammar al-Hakim hailed his country’s relations with Iran as “strategic” and said Baghdad always stands by Tehran in the face of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Speaking at a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Baghdad on Sunday night, Hakim pointed to the economic embargoes imposed on Iran by the US and said the unilateral sanctions set a dangerous precedent in foreign relations and international agreements.
He further described bilateral relations between Iran and Iraq as “strategic” and said the Baghdad government always backs Tehran against US sanctions.
Zarif, for his part, underlined the importance of bilateral ties between the two countries and said President Hassan Rouhani plans to make an official visit to Iraq in the near future.
Heading a high-ranking Iranian delegation, Zarif arrived in Baghdad earlier on Sunday for an official visit.
The visit comes against the backdrop of Iran’s efforts to boost its foreign trade in the US sanctions era.
Iraq’s foreign minister said recently that his country is “not obliged” to abide by sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and would be pursuing options to continue bilateral trade.
On December 20, the US granted Baghdad a 90-day extension to a waiver on abiding by the sanctions that were re-imposed on the Islamic Republic in November.
Trade between the two neighboring countries is thought to amount to around $12bn, while Iran provides around 40 percent of Iraq's electricity needs.
Although Iraq faces possible censure by the US if it fails to cease its trading with Iran by the end of the waiver period, Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim said his country could continue relations with Iran.
“These sanctions, the siege, or what is called the embargo, these are unilateral, not international. We are not obliged (to follow) them,” he said, speaking to a gathering of journalists on January 3.