Iran and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region have emphasized the importance of expanding bilateral relations in various sectors, particularly in the economic field.
The calls for stronger ties came during a visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, on Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Zarif addressed a gathering of business people from both Iran and the Iraqi region in Erbil on the same day.
He praised the brotherly and historical relations between the two sides and called for closer Tehran-Erbil cooperation.
The Iranian foreign minister further said that the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran would fail to affect and hamper Iran’s relations with Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
“Sanctions will fail to create an obstacle in the way of expanding economic ties between Iran and Iraq,” he said, adding that Iran was “a highly reliable partner” for all of its friends, “particularly Iraq’s Kurdistan region.”
Zarif also said that the security of the Islamic Republic is intertwined with and “inseparable from” that of Kurdistan, expressing support for the central government in Baghdad as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Speaking on the sidelines of the economic forum, Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani hailed Zarif’s visit as an indication of the “deep-rooted and good relations” between Iran and the Iraqi Kurdistan.
He further praised Iran’s support for the Kurds when the Takfiri Daesh terrorists were wreaking havoc in the region.
Dara Jalil Khayat, the chairman of the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, who also attended the economic forum, put the volume of trade exchanges between Tehran and Erbil at $6 billion, expressing hope for the expansion of economic ties between the two sides.
He further said that a joint committee would be established to deal with the existing economic problems.
Heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation, Zarif arrived in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Sunday.
There, the Iranian foreign minister met with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, President Barham Salih, Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq Mohamed al-Halbousi, Head of the National Wisdom Movement of Iraq Ammar Hakim, Iraqi lawmaker Hadi al-Amiri, and the heads as well as members of Iraqi religious, political, cultural, ethical, and social bodies.