Iran's Rouhani Slams US Plot to Break Up Iraq

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday deplored a recent defense bill proposed by the US Congress to consider Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis as separate countries, saying that the "united" nation of Iraq would not allow foreigners to decide for them.

Iran's Rouhani Slams US Plot to Break Up Iraq

The Iraqi nation is united and has plans for its stability and integrity, Rouhani said, adding that Iraq's people would not allow other countries to talk about occupation and disintegration of their homeland.

He made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Masum in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

The draft of the US annual defense bill, which was released on April 27 by the House Armed Services Committee, urges the US government to recognize separate Kurdish and Sunni states and provide them with at least 25 percent of the USD-715-million aid money planned to be given to the Iraqi government to help it fight the ISIL terrorist group. The draft bill also says the figure could even amount to 60 percent of the money, about USD 429 million.

The bill mandates that "the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission, and the Iraqi Sunni National Guard be deemed a country," adding that doing so "would allow these security forces to directly receive assistance from the United States."

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani renewed the Islamic Republic's pledge to back the neighboring country in its counter-terrorism campaign, stressing that the security of Iraq is that of Iran.

Regarding the establishment of stability and security in Iraq, Iran is ready to provide any type of assistance that the Iraqi government would ask for in its fight against terrorism, Rouhani reiterated.

He also referred to the bilateral economic ties, and expressed Tehran's willingness to expand economic cooperation with Baghdad.

Iran is ready to negotiate with Iraq for further cooperation on the construction of highways, transit of goods, agriculture, and industry, Rouhani stressed.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum arrived at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport Tuesday at the head of a high-ranking delegation that includes the Arab country's tourism, environment and trade ministers.

Masum, who is visiting Iran at Rouhani's invitation, was formally received by his Iranian counterpart at the Saadabad Palace, northern Tehran, on Wednesday morning.

During his three-day trip, the Iraqi head of state will hold talks with senior Iranian officials including Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.

As two neighboring Muslim countries, Iran and Iraq have sought to enhance bilateral ties in various political, economic, cultural, and defense areas.

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