Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran and Iraq are keen to expand their cooperation in the fight against terrorism and smuggling while seeking stronger ties in the power, gas and oil sectors.
“Border cooperation to fight terrorism, narcotics and smuggling will become stronger between the two countries,” Rouhani said at a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Tehran on Saturday.
He added that Iran was ready to continue the export of electricity, gas and oil to Iraq.
He emphasized that Tehran and Baghdad had managed to take good steps in recent months towards the expansion of financial and banking relations and hoped that both sides would further boost ties in this regard during an upcoming visit by the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdolnaser Hemmati, to Baghdad.
“We have plans to expand trade volume between the two countries to $20 billion in the future and we hope that we will reach this point within the next few months or years,” Rouhani said.
He also expressed hope that work on building a railway linking the two countries would begin soon.
In March, the United States granted Iraq a 90-day waiver for the second time to let Baghdad continue energy imports from Iran which is under US sanctions.
While this waiver is intended to help Iraq mitigate energy shortages, we continue to discuss our Iran-related sanctions with our partners in Iraq,” a State Department official was quoted as saying on March 20.
The administration of US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran in November, months after he withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, but has granted waivers to several buyers, including Iraq, to meet consumer energy needs. The sanctions had been lifted against Iran as part of the nuclear deal.
Elsewhere in the presser, the Iranian president hailed deep-rooted and growing relations between the two countries and expressed hope that visa-free travel for both nations would lead to further expansion of relations.
Back in March, senior officials of the two countries signed five memoranda of understanding for the expansion of bilateral cooperation in various economic and healthcare sectors in Baghdad during a visit by Rouhani to Baghdad