News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIraq PM's office denies plan to visit Iran next...

Iraq PM’s office denies plan to visit Iran next week

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AFP: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki does not plan to travel to Iran next week, his spokesman said Monday, denying an earlier report that he was due to make his first official visit there. BAGHDAD, Sept 4, 2006 (AFP) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki does not plan to travel to Iran next week, his spokesman said Monday, denying an earlier report that he was due to make his first official visit there.

“There is no such arrangement right now for the visit of the prime minister to Iran,” spokesman Ali al-Dabaqh told AFP. “Iraq is looking forward to having better relations with all countries.”

Earlier, Iranian state television had reported that Maliki would next week visit Tehran, the capital of Iraq’s larger neighbour and former wartime foe, for the first time since he came to office.

The Shiite prime minister lived in Iran in the 1980s in order to escape persecution of his Dawa party by Saddam Hussein.

The first visit by an Iraqi prime minister since the fall of Saddam Hussein was made by Maliki’s predecessor Ibrahim al-Jaafari in July 2005.

The two countries waged a war between 1980 and 1988 in which around one million people died but ties have warmed considerably since the fall of Saddam, with the Islamic republic becoming an ally of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

The United States and Britain have, however, accused Iran of allowing weapons to be smuggled to Shiite militias operating in Iraq in rivalry — and sometimes armed opposition — to Maliki’s official security forces.

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