Iraq’s deputy PM arrives in Iran for fence-mending mission

Wext: Monday, 30.August. @ 00:00:00 CEST


TEHRAN, Aug 29 (AFP) - - Iraq’s interim deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, arrived in Tehran Sunday for a visit seen as an effort to heal a rift between the neighbours and prepare for a future visit by Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi.

Saleh, a Kurd from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), was reported to have arrived here on a direct flight from Baghdad -- the first for more than 25 years.

"Different subjects will be discussed, but the most important is the issue is that of the Iranian nationals who are captive in Iraq," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters before Saleh was seen arriving at the ministry for talks.

An Iranian diplomat, Fereydun Jahani, went missing on August 4 on the road leading from Baghdad to Karbala, in central Iraq, where Tehran was set to open a consulate.

His kidnapping was claimed by the Islamic Army of Iraq, which was reported to have issued threats against him but is not known to have carried them out.

An additional source of tension are accusations from Iraqi officials, who have joined the Americans in alleging Iran has been involved in a three-week-long Shiite Muslim uprising in the south and centre and even of arming the rebels.

Shiites are the majority of the population in both neighbouring countries.No date has yet been set for Allawi’s visit despite a formal invitation by Iran and trips to Iraq’s other neighbours. Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jafari made a surprise trip to Iran on Tuesday.

Source: AFP

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