Iran’s FM meets Iraqi officials, calls for redrawing joint borders along Shatt al-Arab
During a formal visit to Iraq on Wednesday, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called on the Iraqi authorities to accelerate joint investigations into the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the former head of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Quds Force, and bring perpetrators to justice.
Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), were killed when a US drone hit their convoy at Baghdad's International Airport on 3 January 2020. Former US President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike. The Iraqi judiciary has issued an arrest warrant for Trump and other Iraqis on alleged charges of participation in the killings.
Amir-Abdollahian met with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein and Iraq's president Abdul Latif Jamal Rasheed, where they discussed joint security, economic and political issues, Iraq's state media reported.
"We discussed with the Iranian Foreign Minister a range of issues of concern for the two countries, and the security and border situation is part of the talks. There are understandings between both sides. The Iraqi government has taken a set of measures to protect the border with Iran, where some groups want to cross the Iranian border," Hussein said during a joint press conference with Amir-Abdollahian in Baghdad.
Husein was referring to Iranian Kurdish opposition parties based in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) that Iran accuses of using Iraqi territories to attack Iranian security forces. Iran repeatedly targeted the bases of the Kurdish parties and called on the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities to disarm or extradite them to a third country.
Hussein indicated that discussions also included how Baghdad can pay back dues to Iran for purchasing gas and electricity, as per his recent talks with the US officials in Washington.
He stated that an understanding between Iran and the United States is crucial for Iraq, hoping that both countries can resume talks in Vienna regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Iraq has taken practical steps for implementing two railways with Iran, one connecting the Shalamcheh border town in Khuzestan Province with Iraq's southern province of Basra, as well as another railway linking Iranian Kermanshah province with Iraq's border area of Munzariah in Diyala province.
Amir-Abdollahian, who earlier visited the site where Soleimani and al-Muhandis were killed, told reporters that Iran and Iraq should do joint legal investigations into the killings.
"We support the implementation of the decision by the Iraqi parliament to oust foreign forces from the country," Amir-Abdollahian said.
He also emphasised the "strategic ties" between Iran and Iraq, describing both countries as "one people in two independent geographies."
He hoped that both countries will form bilateral committees to redraw the passage of the border between Iraq and Iran at the deepest point in the Shatt al-Arab, represented by the Taluk line according to the Algiers agreement in 1975 that was signed between then-Iraqi Vice President Saddam Hussein and Iran's then Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Saddam Hussein revoked the agreement in 1980, which sparked an eight-year-long war with Iran. The Iraq-Iran war ended in 1988.
Amir-Abdollahian highlighted the role which Iraq played in facilitating regional talks between Iran and the Arab states, especially with Saudi Arabia.
He hoped that the Iraqi government would soon carry out previous agreements with Iran regarding not allowing Kurdish opposition parties in Iraqi Kurdistan to pose any threats against Iran.
In November, Iran launched cross-border missile and drone strikes on the Komala bases in Zirgwez and the bases of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) near Koya town of Erbil province. At least three persons were killed in the two separate attacks on KDPI bases near Koya.
Iran accused the Kurdish parties of stoking the nationwide protests triggered by the death in custody in September of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.
In March 2018, Iraq's parliament demanded the Iraqi government that a timeline be set for the withdrawal of foreign troops based in the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani recently said that his country does not need armed foreign forces to remain in Iraq.