By John Lee.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Tuesday, meeting with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and senior officials.

The visit comes as Washington enforces sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

A transcript of Secretary Pompeo’s press conference after the meeting can be read here.

(Source: US State Dept)

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) will set up a representative office in Iraq to facilitate activities by Iranian producers and constructors in the neighboring state.

The issue was discussed in a meeting between Iranian oil industry equipment producers and senior managers of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on the sidelines of the 24th Iran Oil Show in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Friday (May 3).

The meeting was attended by Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Mahmoud Abdul Amir Hashim, the NIOC director for support, construction and goods supply, Ramin Qalambor Dezfouli, and a number of oil equipment producers.

Speaking in the meeting, Qalambor Dezfouli said the gathering was aimed at providing Iranian constructors and producers with the opportunity to establish a closer connection with their Iraqi counterparts.

“We have been seeking to achieve this goal for about three years as Iranian producers and constructors are acting independently in Iraq. Currently, we aim to establish an NIOC representative office in Iraq to represent the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum in the country.”

He added, “We are seeking to work out solutions to enable Iranian producers and constructors to cooperate with Iraq’s private sector.”

Qalambor Dezfouli said the office will be responsible for connecting Iranian oil industry’s constructors and producers with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.

“Given that Iranian constructors do not have international certificates and licenses, we are cooperating with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil to set up a mechanism through which those Iranian companies that are approved by the NIOC, receive approval from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and, thus, be able to participate in the implementation of oil projects in the neighboring state.”

The 24th Iran International Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Exhibition (Iran Oil Show 2019) began on Wednesday (May 1) and will continue until May 4 (Saturday).

(Source: Shana)

The Iranian defense minister called for the enhancement of military and defense cooperation with Iraq, saying collaboration between the two neighbors would serve regional security and stability.

In a meeting with a delegation of Iraqi military commanders, Brigadier General Amir Hatami said the common threats and opportunities necessitate closer consultations between Tehran and Baghdad for protecting the interests of the two nations and ensuring regional security and stability.

Highlighting Iran’s contribution to stability and safety of Iraq, the general said the Iranian and Iraqi forces’ devotion guarantees security in both countries, adding that Iraq would have disintegrated without steadfast cooperation between the two neighbors.

Defense cooperation between Iran and Iraq results in balance, peace, stability and security in the region, General Hatami stated, adding that the two sides are determined to broaden ties.

In a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Commander of Iraq’s Navy Major General Ahmed Jasim Maarij and Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri discussed enhancing military cooperation and holding joint naval programs between the two neighbors.

In July 2017, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to boost military cooperation in a host of fields, including counterterrorism.

Based on the deal, Tehran and Baghdad try to promote interaction and share experiences in the fight against terrorism and extremism, work together to ensure border security, and provide each other with training and logistical, technical and military support.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Amberin Zaman for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Energy tops agenda of Turkish FM’s meetings in Iraq

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Iraqi Kurdish leaders recently on the last leg of an ambitious visit to Iraq, in which the Turkish diplomat unveiled plans to reopen consulates in Mosul and Basra and to establish new ones in Kirkuk and Najaf.

Cavusoglu also announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would pay a formal visit to Iraq before the year’s end.

The timing of the two-day tour, which took Cavusoglu from Baghdad to Basra and finally Erbil, prompted speculation that Turkey was turning to its oil-rich neighbor for help after the US administration announced it was ending waivers that allowed a clutch of countries including Turkey to continue buying oil from Iran effective May 2.

Click here to read the full story.

The total amount of the Iranian exports to neighboring Iraq during the last Persian calendar year (March 2018- March 2019) hit a record high, the data released by Iran’s Customs Office showed.

During the last Iranian year, the Islamic Republic exported $9 billion worth of products to Iraq, indicating a 36 percent increase comparted to a year earlier, setting a new record in the bilateral trade between the two countries, the Customs Office report said.

The data also showed that the total value of Iran’s non-oil exports over the 12-month period amounted to $44 billion, with petrochemicals accounting for $14 bln of the exports.

The top export destination of Iran was China, according to the report.

Iran and Iraq have stepped up efforts in recent years to develop their ties in different areas, including economy and trade.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran back in November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

In February, the governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq struggles to distance itself from US-Iran tensions

Iraq is trying hard to dissociate itself from the rising hostilities between Iran and the United States, as it hopes to preserve its national interests without aligning with either axis in the conflict.

Following his recent visit to Iran, Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi announced April 9 that he will soon visit Saudi Arabia to sign economic and security agreements, as Iraq has done with Jordan and Iran.

A high-ranking Saudi delegation visited Iraq last week and signed several agreements, including ones involving electricity imports to Iraq and the construction of a large stadium.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Iraq, Iran and Syria are reportedly planning to build a railway connecting the three countries.

According to media reports, Salib al-Hussaini, the head of the Iraqi Railway Company, has announced a tripartite summit to discuss the project.

(Source: Prensa Latina)

(Picture credit: Christian Lindgren)

The Iranian president’s chief of staff said Tehran and Baghdad have agreed to establish five joint industrial parks, including one in Iran’s border province of Kurdistan.

Speaking at a meeting on economic development of Kurdistan in the city of Sanandaj on Saturday, Mahmoud Vaezi said Iran and Iraq have devised plans to set up five joint industrial parks.

One of them is scheduled to be built in the province of Kurdistan, he added.

Iran is the top exporter of goods to Iraq, Vaezi said, noting that Iraq and its Kurdistan Region provide a perfect opportunity for Iran to boost exports and deal with the cruel US sanctions.

During Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Iraq in March, the two countries signed five deals to promote cooperation in various fields.

The documents entail cooperation between Iran and Iraq concerning the Basra-Shalamcheh railroad project, visa facilitation for investors, cooperation in the health sector, and agreements between the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran and Ministry of Trade of Iraq, and another one in the field of oil between the petroleum ministries of the two countries.

Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Reza Rahmani has said that Tehran and Baghdad have agreed to reach the target of raising the value of annual trade exchange to $20 billion within two years.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Hamidreza Azizi for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iran, Iraq forge ahead with collaboration amid US pressure

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi visited Tehran April 6-7, his first official visit to the neighboring country since assuming office in October 2018. Accompanied by a large delegation of high-ranking Iraqi officials and representatives of the private sector, Abdul Mahdi came to Tehran at the formal invitation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Apart from meeting with Rouhani, the Iraqi leader also met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and attended a joint meeting of the Iranian and Iraqi business sectors at the Iran Chamber of Commerce.

The visit came less than a month after Rouhani’s visit to Iraq — the first by the Iranian president since taking office in 2013 — in which the two sides reached a number of important agreements, mostly on economic issues.

Click here to read the full story.

Iran and Iraq have reached an understanding on the joint development of the Naft Shahr and Khorramshahr oilfields, Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has announced.

Speaking on Sunday, during a visit to the Energy Industries Engineering and Design (EIED), an affiliate to the Oil Industries’ Engineering and Construction (OIEC), the official said:

“There are massive potentialities for expanding Iran-Iraq cooperation in oil, gas, refining and petrochemicals grounds, and Iran is ready to offer its capabilities to the Iraqi oil industry.”

He added that Thamer al-Ghadhban, Iraqi minister of oil, during a visit to EIED, learned about the capacities of the company, and it was decided that a joint partnership be established between OIEC and a similar company in Iraq in order to develop joint capacity utilization.”

The official further said that Iran had a lot of potentialities in the oil, gas, refining and petrochemicals sectors, adding: “Given the lack of development in the petrochemicals and gas industries in Iraq, there is a bright perspective for cooperation between the two countries.”

He also said that Iran’s gas dues from Iraq stood at a billion dollars already.

Iran the only exporter of natural gas to neighboring Iraq, both members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

(Source: Shana)