PM: Iraq to Send Delegation to US, Iran to Ease Tensions
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced on Tuesday that Baghdad is planning on sending urgent delegations to the United States and Iran to ease mounting tensions between them.
Baghdad "will very soon send delegations to Tehran and Washington to push for calm", he told journalists in the Iraqi capital.
Abdul Mahdi stressed the need to "avoid giving other parties the space to inflame the situation. We will not allow Iraq to be a war zone or a launchpad for a war against any state.”
Calming the situation would "serve both the interests of Iraq and its people and those of the region in general," he added.
He said that Iranian and US officials have informed Iraq that they have "no desire in fighting a war."
Abdul Mahdi said Iraq is "playing a role to calm the situation but it is not a mediation." He revealed he will visit Kuwait on Wednesday to discuss regional issues.
"Iraq is only carrying messages (between the US and Iran). Mediation is a big word. What we are doing is trying to defuse the crisis," the PM stressed. He did not go into details about the delegations that will be sent. "We are transferring messages from one side to the other."
The United States and Iran have exchanged bellicose rhetoric in recent weeks, with the US deploying a naval strike group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over unspecified Iranian threats.
The standoff has raised fears of the consequences for Iraq, which has sought to balance its ties between the bitter enemies.
On Sunday, a Katyusha rocket was fired into Baghdad's Green Zone housing government offices and embassies including the US mission, days after Washington evacuated staff from Iraq, citing Iranian threats.
Another Iraqi official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that Baghdad would be a suitable place for US-Iranian talks.
"The United States considers Iraq the only country able to bring the two countries together for negotiations," he said.