Iran's Rouhani seeks to boost ties on first visit to Baghdad
BAGHDAD- The Associated Press
Since Rouhani's election in 2013, Iraq has relied on Iranian paramilitary support to fight ISIL, following the militant group's capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul and other territory in both Iraq and Syria.
Now with the militants facing a final territorial defeat in the Syrian village of Baghouz, Iran is looking for Iraq's continued support as it faces a maximalist pressure campaign by President Donald Trump after his decision to withdraw America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
Rouhani, who is accompanied on the three-day visit by a high-ranking political and economic delegation, was received by an honor guard on landing in Baghdad, where he was welcomed by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim.
Rouhani then visited the shrine of Imam Kadhim, the seventh of 12 clerics revered by Shiites worldwide. Rouhani, a Shiite cleric himself, paused to reach out and touch the gate surrounding the imam's tomb.
He then met President Barham Salih as well as visit other politicians and Shiite leaders.
Iraq and Iran share a 1,400-kilometer-long (870 miles) border. Trump made a snap December trip to Iraq and made comments that U.S. forces should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran, something dismissed by both Iran and Iraqi leaders, whom Trump did not meet on the visit.