(BAGHDAD) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have turned into something of a pariah in his homeland but he’s still welcomed in Iraq.
With Ahmadinejad preparing to turn over the civilian reins of power to President-elect Hassan Rowhani, he made one last official visit to Baghdad Thursday to essentially reiterate the new ties the two governments have after years of conflict.
When Saddam Hussein was Iraq’s leader, there was no love lost between Baghdad and Tehran. However, Hussein’s ouster, thanks to the U.S.-led invasion, helped bring Iraq and Iran closer together, especially with a Shiite government now in control.
Ahmadinejad, who last visited Baghdad in 2008, said during brief remarks, “We are determined to make use of all available opportunities to develop brotherly relations.”
It’s expected that these ties will continue unabated with Rowhani in control, although he blamed the old administration this past week for the poor state of the Iranian economy.
Currently, the two countries are engaged in $13 billion in annual trade.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Roshni Majumdar, CNN
KJ Kwon and Ben Westcott, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN