Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has said he will send a delegation to Washington to negotiate over Baghdad’s requests for exemptions from some of the sanctions the United States is imposing on Iran.
“We have requests for the American side, we have presented them, and a delegation will go to negotiate within that framework,” Abadi told a weekly news conference on August 28, noting that Iraq’s economy has been closely linked with its Persian Gulf neighbor, particularly in the energy area.
“We have presented a clear vision of what Iraq really needs. This includes Iranian [natural] gas, which is very important, as well as other trade and the electricity sector.”
Abadi said Washington has seemed open to Iraq’s request.
“We have had good promises initially, but as you know, the American situation is complicated; you do not deal with one person, there are several institutions,” he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in May and this month began reimposing U.S. sanctions on Iran’s economy.
The Trump administration has warned that countries that continue to do business with Iran, including allies in Europe and the Middle East, could face penalties under the sanctions.
The renewed tensions between Washington and Tehran have put Baghdad in a particularly difficult position as it regards the two longtime adversaries as its biggest allies.
Abadi initially said he would honor the U.S. sanctions, but on August 28, he called them “unilateral” and “oppressive,” and said he didn’t want Iraq to be “part of a blockade” due to its own painful experience with international sanctions during the Saddam Hussein era.
“We are against any economic sanctions on any country, and that remains our strategic stance,” he said.
Source: Radio Free Europe, 29 August, 2018. Based on reporting by Reuters and Iraqi News