Sunday, September 10, 2006

Iraqi PM's visit to Iran may be delayed

The first official visit to Iran by Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, that was due to take place on Monday may be delayed for a day or more, Iraqi and Iranian officials said on Sunday.

"It was scheduled that he arrive in Tehran tomorrow (Monday), but due to some technical reasons he cannot come tomorrow," Mohammad Majid al-Sheikh, Iraq's ambassador to Iran, told Iranian state television. He did not give details but said the trip could go ahead on Tuesday or later. READ MORE

Another Iraqi official, who asked not to be identified, said there was discussion about a possible delay but no decision had been taken. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman also said it was not yet clear whether Maliki would arrive on Monday.

Iraq and non-Arab Iran fought a war in the 1980s under Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated rule. But ties have warmed since Iraq's Shi'ite majority won elections, unsettling Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs and many Sunni-dominated states distrustful of the influence of Tehran's Shi'ite clerical establishment.

Analysts have pointed out Iran's increasing influence in post-war Iraq since the empowerment of its Shi'ite majority. The United States has long complained about what it says is Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs.