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21 May, 2019 15:32

Baghdad to send diplomatic teams to help ‘halt’ US-Iran tensions – PM

Baghdad to send diplomatic teams to help ‘halt’ US-Iran tensions – PM

Iraq will send diplomatic delegations to both Tehran and Washington, its prime minister has said, after weeks of military posturing and insult trading has prompted fears of open conflict between the two rivals.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said the teams' aim was to help “halt tensions” between the US and Iran. It’s not an official mediation though. Iraq considers both Iran and the US as allies, with both giving substantial support to Baghdad in its battle against Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists.

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“Iraq is making high-level contact, and its view to resolve the crisis is so close to the European view,” Mahdi said, referring to many European nations’ who want normalized relations with Iran. He added that both US and Iranian officials had confirmed to him that they do not want conflict with each other.

Mahdi’s push for de-escalation follows calls by several influential Iraqi Shia leaders against any military action. Prominent cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr feared a US-Iran conflict would be “the end of Iraq” and pushed for “peace and reconstruction.” Hadi al-Amiri, an Iraqi politician and former military commander warned that war would “burn everyone.”Delete

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Governments in the region have been on high alert in recent weeks after Washington upped its military presence by sending a “message to Iran” in the form of an aircraft carrier group, bombers, and extra missile defenses to the Persian Gulf. Iran has repeatedly said it does not want conflict with Washington, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei believing there is a similar line of thinking in the US.

“Neither we nor they seek war. They know it will not be in their interest,” he said.

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