Iran Grants Iraq $1 bln Loan

news411.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iran announced here on Friday that it would grant a one-billion-dollar loan to Iraq.

According to a report by the Iranian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, the loan paid in the form of credit is a further measure by Iran to help reconstruction of Iraq.

Speaking in a meeting with Iraq’s Minister of Finance Bayan Jabr, Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Davoud Danesh Ja’fari said the loan is aimed at assisting the Iraqi government with the reconstruction of that country in areas of mutual interest.

“The Iraqi side has undertaken to use Iranian experts and contractors for the execution of that country’s infrastructural projects which should be specified through earlier coordination with Iran,” he said.

For his part, the Iraqi finance minister reminded that the agreement followed the rather lengthy negotiations between the two countries’ heads of state, and added, “No doubt, the two sides’ negotiations would not have reached a conclusion if it were not for the strong support of the Iranian and Iraqi senior officials.”

He said that experts in his ministry had predicted mutual agreement on the grant of loan by the Iranian government but not in the near future, adding, “And we are truly happy to see that the agreement has been signed by the two countries only a few days after the budget bill was introduced to the Iraqi parliament.”

Jabr appreciated the Iranian side for its sincere cooperation and industrious efforts in this regard.

He also pointed out that according to the agreement, the credit would used for the construction and completion of power plants, roads, hospitals, schools, and some other infrastructural possibilities.

The Iraqi finance minister and his accompanying entourage arrived here in Tehran on Monday and attended talks with Iran’s first Vice-President, Cooperation Minister and Foreign Minister prior to the meeting with Danesh Ja’fari.

Earlier during a visit to Tehran by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Iran announced that it would give the Baghdad government a $1 billion line of credit.

The financial arrangements were revealed on the third and final day of Talabani’s meetings here with Iran’s political elite, including the Iranian President.

At the meeting, Ahmadinejad made clear that Iran would support Iraq’s government in setting a timetable for US troops to leave the country.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that in addition to the line of credit, Ahmadinejad and Talabani had signed “hundreds of millions of dollars” worth of no-bid contracts and trade pacts for Iraqi reconstruction. Under the agreements, Iran will help rebuild schools, hospitals, pipelines and power plants.

Iran’s gestures underscored its deep religious bond with its Shiite-majority neighbor but also what some believe is its desire to displace the US as a powerbroker in Iraq. They were announced as possible tensions surfaced in the US-Iraq relationship when a summit between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Bush in Amman was postponed by a day.

Ahmadinejad had invited Talabani to Tehran to explore possible ways to bring calm to Iraq.

Following the meeting, Talabani said in a press conference that the two countries “had complete agreement” in three days of talks. Talabani, who has had good relations over the years with both Iranian and US leaders, has been portrayed as pivotal in finding support for Iraq from Iran, a longtime US adversary.

“We can clearly say that the trip has been 100 percent successful,” Talabani said. “And I would like to give the Iraqi nation the good news that the fruitful result of this trip will soon be seen by them.”

Talabani met with top ministers in the government and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, and he indicated that the Iranian elite are well informed of the threat that the violence has posed to the region.

Ahmadinejad was specific in his statement about how he regarded the daily car bombs and mortar attacks that have nearly paralyzed Iraq and have been blamed largely on feuding Shiite and Sunni Muslim factions.

“Terrorist acts are the most shameful acts you can do,” Ahmadinejad said. “This is not a help to the Iraqi nation.”

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