Decades-old enemies, the United States and Iran have battled for influence in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
Both countries have helped Iraq defeat the Islamic State group, but the US still has 2,500 non-combat troops deployed on Iraqi soil to provide advice and training.
About 900 US troops remain in Syria, most of them in the Kurdish-ruled northeast, as part of a US-led coalition fighting the remnants of ISIS. And the 5th fleet of the US Navy is based in Bahrain, across the Gulf of Iran.
Iran, which has strong ties to Iraq, opposes the US military presence on its borders in Iraq and the Gulf, saying Western military intervention is the root of insecurity in the region.
“Americans are not friends with anyone and they are not even loyal to their European friends. Even the presence of an American in Iraq is too great”, declared Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his meeting with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid.
Earlier, Rashid met with President Ebrahim Raisi and held a joint press conference.
“We do not consider the presence of foreign forces and foreigners in the region useful. Our relationship with Iraq is based on common interests. The Americans think about their interests, not the interests of the countries in the region. The presence of the US disturbs the security of the region”, declared the Iranian president.
Iraq has become a key economic asset for the sanctions-hit Islamic republic, while Iran supplies Iraq with gas and electricity as well as consumer goods.
“Relations between Iran and Iraq will continue in the field of water and electricity infrastructure,” Raisi pointed out.
At the press conference with Rashid, Raisi emphasized the importance of Iran’s cooperation with Iraq in security and other matters.
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