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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iranian president to pay historic visit to Iraq by March 20

RIA Novosti

28/01/2008 16:03

TEHRAN, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's president will travel to Iraq by March 20 for the first official visit by an Iranian leader in almost 30 years, the country's foreign minister said on Monday.

"The issue of Dr. [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's visit to Iraq has finally been settled. His visit will take place later this [Iranian] year [which finishes on March 20]," Manuchehr Motaki said.

Relations between Baghdad and Tehran, which were involved in a bloody war in 1980-1988, have improved since Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003.

Iran is currently under pressure from the United States, which leads international efforts to force Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment program. Washington suspects Iran of a covert weapons program, while Tehran insists it is only for peaceful goals.

Iran also believes the U.S. led-coalition force is causing instability and continuing violence in Iraq, and Tehran is calling for the urgent withdrawal of military forces and the complete transfer of authority to the legitimate Iraqi government.

Following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraq quickly sank into a bloody spiral of sectarian violence from which it has yet to fully emerge.

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