Iran rejects reports on secret visit by Iraq’s Maliki
A senior Iranian official has dismissed Arab media reports about a confidential visit to Tehran by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Press TV reported.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, was reacting on Friday to reports in some papers in the Persian Gulf Arab states.
"Mr. Maliki...is the highest-ranking official in Iraq. His visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran have always been official and public. No confidential visit has been made to Tehran by Mr. Maliki and any [future] visit will take place within official and legal framework," he said.
The Iranian official gave a positive assessment of the track record of Maliki, who has been in power since 2006 and is likely to win a new term in office.
Amir-Abdollahian said Iran favors Iraqi leaders who would fight terrorist groups in that conflict-stricken country.
He added that the April 30 parliamentary elections in Iraq showed the Iraqis' rejection of terrorism and foreign interference.
The parliamentary vote was held despite threats by al-Qaeda-linked militants who had warned of spoiling the election process.
Iraq is currently witnessing a wave of violence unprecedented in recent years.
Official figures show that more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed and nearly 1,400 others injured in violent attacks across Iraq in April.
The United Nations says nearly 9,000 people were killed in 2013.
Takfiri groups, including the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are reportedly coming to Iraq from neighboring Syria and Saudi Arabia to undermine security in the country.
Maliki has said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are responsible for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing the Al Saud regime as a major supporter of global terrorism.