Zarif: Iran Will Defend Itself against Any Aggression
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif stressed Sunday that his country would “strongly” defend itself against any military or economic aggression.
Speaking during a news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said his country wanted to build balanced relations with its Arab Gulf neighbors and that it had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.
He also addressed the nuclear deal signed with world powers in 2015.
He called on European states to do more to preserve the agreement his country signed with them.
For his part, Hakim said that Baghdad is willing to act as an intermediary between Iran and the United States.
He also added that Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, a reference to US sanctions.
Zarif had arrived in Iraq on Saturday for talks with senior officials amid mounting tensions with Washington and following a decision by the US to deploy 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi warned of the "danger of a war" during a meeting with the Iranian official on Saturday night, his office said.
Abdul Mahdi pleaded for the "stability of the region and the upholding of the nuclear deal.”
Iraqi President Barham Salih discussed with Zarif "the need to prevent all war or escalation," his office said.
On Saturday Zarif called the deployment of extra US troops to the region "very dangerous and a threat to international peace and security."
It follows a US decision in early May to send an aircraft carrier strike force and B-52 bombers in a show of force against what Washington's leaders believed was an imminent Iranian plan to attack US assets.
Washington says the latest reinforcements are in response to a "campaign" of recent attacks including a rocket launched into the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosive devices that damaged four tankers near the entrance to the Arabian Gulf and a drone attack by Yemeni Iran-backed Houthi militias on a key Saudi oil pipeline.
The US this month ended the last exemptions it had granted from sweeping unilateral sanctions it reimposed on Iran after abandoning the nuclear deal in May last year.