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Iran's Rouhani hails 'special' ties with Iraq ahead of visit

AFP  |  Tehran 

Iran's on Monday described ties with as "special", as he prepared to travel to on his first official visit to the neighbouring country.

Rouhani's three-day visit comes as has been under pressure from to limit ties with its neighbour, particularly after the withdrew from the nuclear deal and hit with sanctions.

"Iran-relations are special," said at Tehran's Mehrabad airport, state television reported.

"Whenever the people of the region had a problem and asked for help, the people and rushed to their help with all their power," he added.

Iran has close but complicated ties with Iraq, with significant influence among its Shiite political groups.

The two countries fought a bloody war from 1980 to 1988 and Tehran's influence in grew after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq toppled the government of

Iran was the first country to respond to Iraqi calls for help after Islamic State group jihadists captured in 2014 and threatened to overrun and

dispatched "military advisors" and equipment overnight along with the famous Revolutionary Guards elite to prevent IS jihadists from approaching its western borders.

Following the defeat of IS in Iraq, Iran is trying to position itself to gain a prime role in rebuilding the war-ravaged country.

"Iran-Iraq relations are not comparable with (Iraq's relations) with an aggressor country like America," said.

"is despised in the region. The bombs that the Americans dropped on Iraqis, Syrian people and other countries cannot be forgotten and," he said.

Rouhani's visit to Iraq will be the first since he became in 2013.

He is set to meet Iraqi Adel Abdel Mahdi, and the country's Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, according to the Iranian government's website.

Iran's arrived Sunday in Baghdad to prepare for the visit.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 11 2019. 12:20 IST