Iraqi PM to Visit Iran

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is scheduled to pay an official visit to the Iranian capital of Tehran as part of a regional tour.

“This (regional) trip had been arranged previously and has nothing to do with a growing (diplomatic) crisis in the Persian Gulf region,” al-Abadi told Iraq’s al-Forat news website ahead of his three-day tour.

The crisis he was referring to came to the fore when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar in early June, officially accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, which Doha strongly denies. In their apparent bid to secure US support and that of Israel, they further suspended all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, expelled its diplomats and ordered Qatari citizens to leave their countries.

The top Iraqi official will begin his tour, which will also take him to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, on Sunday.

The visits come as Iraqi forces are making major advances against Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists and putting finishing touches to their military campaign.

The government forces retook eastern Mosul in January and began a new push on May 27 to capture the remaining enclave, where up to 200,000 people are trapped.

The Mosul offensive started in October with support of the country’s popular forces. It has taken much longer than expected.

The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the terrorist group in Iraq.

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