Iranian President Ahmadinejad to make landmark visit to Iraq

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007
Image: Daniella Zalcman.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Baghdad Sunday on the very first visit to Iraq by an Iranian president.

The trip is expected to be both symbolic and aiding in Baghdad-Iran relations, which are both predominately Shia. It will be closely watched by the United States, who already has over 150,000 troops in Iraq.

Iran and Iraq fought each other in a 1980s war that cost one million lives, an effective stalemate, and torn Iraqi-Iranian relations. Relations have improved since Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party were overthrown in 2003.

Ahmedinejad is expected to visit Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, both of whom have visited Iran before while in office.

"It will surely help strengthen the Iraqi nation and the government ... and peace and security in the region," Ahmadinejad told Iranian state television. "Withdrawal of the occupying forces is in everyone's advantage," he added.