Commander of Iran’s Quds Force Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani arrived on Wednesday in Baghdad as part of an official delegation from Iran.
According to Iraqi sources, Ghaani’s visit was the first announced upon an official visa he had obtained from Iraq’s Foreign Ministry due to “strict orders” by Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Iranian figures, especially leaders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, used to make unannounced visits to Iraq.
However, Kadhimi issued orders stipulating that all foreign officials, including political and military figures from all countries, should obtain official visas and visit Baghdad as official delegations, sources affirmed.
An Iranian delegation arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday, headed by Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian, and met with senior Iraqi officials, including President Barham Salih.
Salih stressed during his meeting with Ardakanian on the importance of joint coordination and bilateral cooperation, especially in the electricity and water sectors.
This would “attain development and prosperity for the two neighboring peoples,” a presidential statement read.
According to the statement, Salih also highlighted joint efforts among all to address the complex situations in the region and achieve security and stability for the peoples.
Ardakanian, for his part, reiterated his country's readiness to continue to cooperate and support Iraq in all fields.
He said Iran is highly interested in investing in the energy sector, expanding electricity networks and exchanging experiences.
Meanwhile, Baghdad is preparing to hold the first comprehensive strategic dialogue with the United States after signing the security and strategic framework agreements in 2008.
Talks are expected to take place by teleconference between both delegations and at the level of ambassadors, under the supervision of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Member of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee MP Alaa Talabani said in press statements that the proposal to define bilateral relations was submitted after killing the Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani, in a US raid on January 3 and Iraqi parliament’s decision to withdraw US troops from its territory.
“US-Iraqi talks will discuss defining relations in the field of security, trade, and the US presence in Iraq.”
She also affirmed that the Kurdistan region will participate in these crucial negotiations that will determine Iraq’s national security path.
“Baghdad and Washington will hold preliminary discussions led by the Undersecretary of the US State Department from the US side and Senior Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashem from the Iraqi side,” Chairman of Iraq’s Advisory Council Farhad Alaaldin told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The US negotiating delegation will include representatives of the departments of defense, energy, economy, and other US institutions, while the Iraqi premier’s advisers and security and military figures will take part in the scheduled talks, he noted.
Alaaldin pointed out that talks will focus in general on bilateral ties, and each side will determine the subjects of discussion to be scheduled for another meeting after Kadhimi completes his government formation.