Iraq supports Syria's return to Arab League: FM

BAGHDAD, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad al-Hakim said on Sunday that Iraq supports the restoration of Syria's suspended membership of the Cairo-based Arab League (AL).

Al-Hakim's comments came at a joint press conference with the his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif, who is on an official visit to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders to discuss means to enhance bilateral cooperation.

"We discussed solutions to eliminate terrorism in Syria and support the Syrian government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty," al-Hakim said.

"We also discussed supporting Iraq's efforts to restore Syria's (membership) to the AL," he added.

Syria has experienced years of destruction since its civil war broke out in 2011, and later the country's membership of the AL was suspended.

Earlier in the day, al-Hakim and Zarif held a meeting inside Iraqi Foreign Ministry building at the edge of the Green Zone in central Baghdad.

A statement by al-Hakim's office said that he confirmed during the meeting that the Iraqi-Iranian relations are witnessing "steady progress in light of the mutual visits of officials of the two countries."

Al-Hakim also expressed Iraq's determination to upgrade "these relations and strengthen ties between the two countries on all levels to serve the two neighboring peoples."

Zarif affirmed that Iran stands by Iraq in its war against terrorism and pledged to provide support to the reconstruction of the country, according to the statement.

Earlier in the day, the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad said in a press statement that Zarif was scheduled to hold a series of meetings with top Iraqi officials on Monday, including Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, and Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi.

It said that Zarif will head Tuesday to Erbil, the capital of semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, to meet with Kurdish leaders, before flying Wednesday to the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf in south of Baghdad.

Zarif's visit came at the time when the United States has reimposed sanctions on Iran's oil industry as well as its banking and transport sectors, after Washington's pullout from the 2015 landmark nuclear deal in May last year.

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]


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