Iran pledges $1 billion loan to Iraq

TEHERAN — Iran has allocated $1 billion in loans for infrastructure projects in Iraq, a senior Iranian official said ahead of a visit to Iraq by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

By (AP)

Published: Sun 2 Mar 2008, 8:40 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:15 PM

The loans will pay for reconstruction projects conducted by Iranian companies, Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Reza Sheikh Attar told the official IRNA news agency late Friday.

"Iran’s $1 billion loan to Iraq was among the main issues discussed with the Iraqi side,” Attar said. He spoke as he ended a visit to Baghdad as part of a high-ranking delegation paving the way for Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq due to begin today.

"The loan will be allocated to infrastructural projects carried out by Iranian contractors using Iranian goods and equipment,” Attar said.

The Iranian president also plans to inaugurate two power lines during his trip, Deputy Energy Minister Mohammad Ahmadian said. He said one 400-megawatt transmission line would run from the Iranian port city of Abadan to the Iraqi town of Alharasa, and another from Iran’s Marivan to Panjwin in Iraq.

A third line supplying power to Khaneqin in eastern Iraq is already operational, Ahmadian said. Teheran has also signed a $150 million contract to build a 300-megawatt power plant in Baghdad, he said.

Ten other economic cooperation agreements will be signed between Iran and Iraq during Ahmadinejad’s visit, along with the $1 billion loan, which was first announced by Iranian officials last May.

"The political aim of the president’s visit is to materialise the idea of establishing durable peace borders between Iran and Iraq,” IRNA quoted Attar as saying.

Teheran is seeking to increase its regional influence and Iranian officials agree they play a strong role in Iraq, much as they do with the trade and aid they provide to Afghanistan on their eastern border.

Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, said last August that Iran-Iraq trade in 2006 totalled $2 billion — 97 per cent of that going from Iran into Iraq. Iranian Commerce Ministry officials say they hope trade will soar to $10 billion in the next five years.

Iran says it also wants to build an airport in Najaf. It has also begun work on a railroad between the Iranian port of Khorramshar and Basra in southern Iraq, connecting both countries’ rail systems. Teheran says it is also conducting feasibility studies to build two pipelines to carry oil from Iraq.

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