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Baghdad offers to mediate with US as Iran's FM visits Iraq

Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 May, 2019

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Baghdad on Saturday for an unannounced visit.
Iraq's parliament speaker said Saturday that Baghdad is ready to mediate between the United States and Iran if it is asked to do so.

Mohamad Halbousi's comments, carried by state TV, came shortly after Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Baghdad beginning a two-day visit.

Iraqi TV aired footage of Zarif upon arrival while being received by the Foreign Ministry's undersecretary Nizar Khairallah.

"We are ready to mediate to solve the crisis between Washington and Tehran if we are asked for that," al-Halbousi, whose country has close ties with both Washington and Tehran, said. He added that there has been "no official request for such mediation."

Later in the day, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi hosted Zarif for iftar, the meal that breaks daylong fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A statement released by Abdul-Mahdi's office said the two officials discussed "ways of making the two countries and the region avoid the harms of sanctions and the dangers of war."

They also spoke about the importance of security and stability in the Middle East and how to maintain the nuclear deal reached in 2015 between Iran and world powers.

On Friday, Zarif was in Pakistan and met officials there as tensions have ratcheted up in the Mideast.

The White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region in response to a still-unexplained threat from Iran.

The US plans to send 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East amid heightened tensions.

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