Reuters: Iran and Iraq have agreed to reactivate some elements of a 1975 border agreement which was the centre of a row in December when the Iraqi president said the treaty was void, a statement he later retracted. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran and Iraq have agreed to reactivate some elements of a 1975 border agreement which was the centre of a row in December when the Iraqi president said the treaty was void, a statement he later retracted.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani appeared to reopen an old border row in December when he said the 32-year-old Algiers treaty had been “voided by the current government”, a statement he then reversed but said Iraq wanted to negotiate changes.
An Iraqi team arrived in Tehran this week to discuss the agreement which covers the border along the Shatt al-Arab waterway, known as Arvand Rud in Iran, at the head of the Gulf.
The dispute over the waterway was a factor leading to the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in which around 1 million people died.
“The deputy foreign ministers of Iran and Iraq agreed on continuing expert talks about details over using the Arvand Rud and also on problems related to their joint borders,” Iran’s Resalat newspaper reported.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Reza Baqeri held talks with Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hajj Humoud to discuss establishing “security at joint borders and removing existing problems”, Resalat reported, without giving details.
They also agreed to reactivate “technical mechanisms” mentioned in the 1975 treaty and additional protocols, the daily said, citing a report from the official IRNA news agency. The report did not give details about those mechanisms.
The border talks come ahead of a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iraq in March, the first official trip to Iraq by an Iranian leader since the 1979 Iranian revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah.
Analysts say Iran wants to show its support for the government of Shi’ite Muslim Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Shi’ites are the majority religious group in Iran and increase Tehran’s influence in Iraq.
Iran has called on U.S. troops to quit Iraq and to hand over more powers to Iraqis.
An Iranian analyst said Ahmadinejad would seek to show the Iraqi government — at least publicly — did not view Tehran as an interfering neighbor, a charge the U.S. administration often makes.
“(The visit) will go against the American propaganda against Iran, as far as Iranian leaders are concerned … (Americans) are saying the Iraqi leaders are not happy with the Iranian interference and provocation inside Iraq,” the analyst said.
Ahmadinejad’s political rival, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who was beaten in the 2005 presidential race and is now Tehran mayor, will visit Iraq on Friday, Iran’s Ebtekar daily said.
(Writing by Edmund Blair)