Iran Minister of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad for talks
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali al-Hakim (R) receives his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Baghdad on January 13, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad on Sunday for extensive talks, including US sanctions against Tehran.
The visit came just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise stop during his regional tour to urge Iraq to no longer rely on Iran for gas and electricity imports.
Washington has granted Baghdad dispensation until the end of March to continue to buy Iranian gas and electricity, despite the reintroduction of heavy sanctions against Tehran in November.
After a two-hour meeting on Sunday, Iraqi top diplomat Mohammed Ali al-Hakim said he had discussed the restrictions with his counterparty.
"We discussed the unilateral economic measures of the US and work with our neighbor (Iran)," said Hakim.
Zarif struck the role of Washington in the region.
"These failures have continued over the past 40 years and my proposal to countries (in the region) is not to bet on a lost horse," he told reporters.
Iran's foreign minister continued with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, who issued a statement confirming: "Iraq's policy is to seek the best ties with all its neighbors."
Van Zarif is expected to attend various economic forums in various Iraqi cities, including Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish north.
When he was in Baghdad, he discussed numerous political and economic issues with his Iraqi counterpart, including Syria and Yemen.
Hakim said Iraq was in favor of the resumption of Syria's membership by the Arab League eight years after it had been suspended when the conflict took place there.
After the visit of Zarif, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is also expected to travel to Iraq in the near future.
Iran is the second largest source of imported goods in Iraq.
Apart from canned food and cars, Baghdad also buys 1,300 megawatts of electricity and 28 million cubic meters of natural gas from Iran every day to feed power stations.
This dependence is uncomfortable for Washington, which sees Tehran as the largest regional enemy and expects Iraq to deduct from the Iranian energy sources.
But the energy links between Baghdad and Tehran seem to have remained nearby, with the Iranian oil minister who visited Baghdad last week to expose US sanctions as "totally illegal."
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