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Iraq PM to visit Iran, Turkey as sanctions bite

Al Abadi earlier said Iraq would reluctantly comply with US sanctions against Tehran

Gulf News

Baghdad- Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi is to visit top trading partners Turkey and Iran next week, an official said Saturday, days after Washington slapped new sanctions on Tehran and piled economic pressure on Ankara.

Abadi “will head to Turkey on Tuesday and Iran on Wednesday to discuss economic affairs with the two countries,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Iraq is the second-largest importer of Iranian non-hydrocarbon products, buying some $6 billion worth of goods from its eastern neighbour in 2017.

It also buys in Iranian-generated electricity in efforts to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks.

Al Abadi on Tuesday said Iraq would reluctantly comply with sanctions against Tehran which took effect the same day.

It came after the administration of US President Donald Trump’s, unilateral withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

“We don’t support the sanctions because they are a strategic error, but we will comply with them,” Abadi said.

Baghdad is allied with Washington, a strategic partner in the war that saw Iraq declare “victory” over Daesh in late 2017.

But it also has strong ties to Tehran, a Shiite powerhouse that is heavily involved in Iraq’s political affairs.

Al Abadi’s visit to Ankara is also overshadowed by a bitter row between Nato allies Turkey and the US.

Trump said Friday he was doubling steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey as part of an ongoing row over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson and other issues.

The row has caused the Turkish lira to crash, dropping 16 per cent against the dollar on Friday.

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