AFP: US President Barack Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Baghdad, veteran diplomat and North Korea expert Christopher Hill, told lawmakers Wednesday that Iran remains "a real problem" for Iraq.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President Barack Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Baghdad, veteran diplomat and North Korea expert Christopher Hill, told lawmakers Wednesday that Iran remains "a real problem" for Iraq.
"The real problem in the region for Iraq remains its ancient neighbor, Iran," Hill told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on his embattled nomination to become the top US diplomat in Baghdad.
At the same time, if an ongoing review of US-Iran relations results in instructions from Washington to hold contacts with diplomats from Tehran, "I would be most pleased to do that," the envoy told the panel.
Hill said Washington wants Iraq to "have a good relationship" with Iran but said US officials and leaders in Baghdad want Tehran "to respect Iraqi sovereignty" and keep out of their internal affairs.
Hill, best known as the top US envoy to six-country nuclear talks with North Korea, said that Iraq was making strides towards normal diplomatic relations with its neighbors six years after the March 2003 US-led invasion.
"There is a growing interest in the neighborhood to normalize with Iraq," he said, underlining that "things are improved there" because Iraq's neighbors are increasing respectful of the Baghdad government as "not something installed by us."