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Iraqi President Meets With Iranian Officials in Tehran


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is visiting Tehran, Friday to meet with top Iranian leaders.

President Talabani was greeted at the airport in Tehran by top Iranian officials, as he arrived in the early morning Friday for his second visit to the Iranian capital in just over two years. Mr. Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party has traditionally been close to Iran.

Mr. Talabani, arrived for a three-day visit on the return-leg of a trip to South Korea, with a high-level delegation of Iraqi officials from the ministries of trade, electricity and foreign affairs.

Al-Iraqia TV reports that Iran is offering $1 billion in aid and trade credits to Iraq, in addition to helping with its electricity grid and other infrastructure projects.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali Debbagh says Iraq is an ideal trading partner for Iran. He says that the Iraqi market is open and any country or company or business can export to us, since we rely on a free-market system, based on competition. And I think that Iran has many products that it can export to us, provided that they do not flood our markets, either, since we have our own national industries to think about.

The Iraqi leader met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, as both country's delegations discussed trade and cooperation in the fields of education, culture and electricity. Ahmedinejad, who himself visited Iraq in March 2008, says that both country's can cooperate in multiple domains, now that relations are improving.

He says that the climate is improving between both countries and that they have many fields in which to exchange expertise, including industry, electricity, education and culture.

Iran and Iraq fought a bloody, eight-year war between 1980 and 1988, in which a half a million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers as well as civilians are believed to have died and many more injured and wounded.

Mr. Talabani will also reportedly met with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the head of Iran's Expediency Council Aly Akbar Hashemi Rafsandjani.

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