TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Mohamed al-Halbousi highlighted the importance of his country’s bilateral relations with Iran and said Baghdad is willing to maintain the ties.

– Politics news –

In a statement on Sunday, Halbousi’s office said he had met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his accompanying delegation, the Arabic-language al-Sumaria News reported.

In the meeting, the Iraqi parliament speaker highlighted Iraq’s willingness to maintain its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and all other regional countries, it said.

He further pointed to recent tensions in the region and stressed the need for dialogue and peaceful initiatives for confidence-building among all parties, according to the statement.

It added that Zarif, for his part, said Tehran has no restrictions for the resolution of all problems with regional countries and that the Islamic Republic is not interested in any escalation of tensions.

The remarks came against the backdrop of increased tensions between Iran and the US with Washington imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump is trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and has sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.

Iranian officials, however, have dismissed such moves as psychological warfare, saying the country has its own ways of circumventing the American bans and selling crude oil.