Iraq calls on Iran to cooperate against terrorism

Iraq calls on Iran to cooperate against terrorism

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Wednesday called on neighbouring Iran to cooperate with his country in combating terrorism, Iraqi media reported.

"Cooperation between the two countries is necessary for bolstering security and stability in the region and combating terrorism," the independent website Alsumaria News quoted him as saying at talks with Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi, dpa reported.

Vahidi had arrived in the Iraqi capital Baghdad earlier in the day for the first visit by an Iranian defence minister since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003, according to the report.

Vahidi said his visit was aimed at exchanging views with Iraqi officials on boosting bilateral defence cooperation, reported Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency.

The visit comes a day after Iraq demanded for the first time that Iranian cargo planes, flying over its territory en route to Syria, land for inspections in search of suspected arms.

Observers say the move was in response to pressure from the United States, which argued that Tehran could be using the overflights to supply weapons to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Iraqi government is dominated by Shiite parties, which have historically been close to Iran's theocratic rulers, and has adopted a muted position on the 19-month conflict in neighbouring Syria.

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