Rouhani’s upcoming visit to Iraq 'a historical turning point' in mutual ties: FM spox

TEHRAN, Mar. 04 (MNA) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the upcoming visit by President Hassan Rouhani to Baghdad is aimed to cement mutual relations between the two neighbors in high levels.

Speaking during his weekly press conference on Monday, Ghasemi underlined that Iran and Iraq already share longstanding mutual, friendly ties in different economic, energy, and cultural fields, asserting that Rouhani’s upcoming visit to Baghdad would be a “turning point in the two countries’ relations”.

Noting that the president’s trip would be historic and important under the current regional circumstances, he added that the visit can open up new horizons in bilateral ties.

Reportedly, Rouhani is scheduled to make his first trip to the neighboring country as a president on March 11 at the head of a large delegation. The trip comes at a time when building and preserving ties with the world is of critical importance, in view of the sanctions reimposed by the United States.

Senior officials from Iran including, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati have visited Baghdad in the recent weeks Baghdad preparing the grounds for Rouhani’s visit.

Top-ranking Iraqi officials, including President Barham Salih, have also visited Iran in past months.

Tehran to host European delegations on 'INSTEX'

Further in his remarks, Ghasemi pointed to 'INSTEX' – the long-awaited mechanism created for facilitating trade with Iran – saying Tehran will host European delegations in near future to follow up the conditions of implementing the mechanism.

He noted that although INSTEX has never been the Islamic Republic’s only option, Tehran expects the Europeans to accelerate the implementation of the mechanism to show their commitment.

In this regard, the official expressed hope that the upcoming meetings will help positive steps toward realizing the envisaged plans and facilitate the country’s trades at the global level.

Now that the long-awaited mechanism has been established, the official said, it should become operational as soon as possible to fulfill its already delayed expectations.

Short for "Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges", INSTEX was registered after months of negotiations and technical talks in the wake of the US administration's unilateral exit last year from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Germany, France and Britain have helped set up and manage the clearinghouse. The three countries have sought broader support for the mechanism from all 28 EU member states to show European good faith in implementing commitments under the nuclear accord and to present a united front against any retaliation from Washington.

There are still technical details to be worked out following the entity's official registration. The payment channel is aimed to shield European companies from US sanction-related penalties. However, European companies and banks that do business with the US may still be hesitant to trade with Iran over concerns they could be hit with US penalties. Many European companies have already pulled out of Iran in response to US sanctions.

MNA/4558672

News Code 143079

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