Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mohammed al-Hakim Zarif - Iran, Iraq

Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed. Speaking at a Baghdad news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said Iran wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them. “We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said. Strains have increased between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region. Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concern over the risk of conflict in a volatile region. Iraq stands with Iran and is willing to act as an intermediary between its neighbor and the United States, Hakim said. Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, he added in a reference to U.S. sanctions. “We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position,” Hakim said. The United States and Iran are Iraq’s two main allies. Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign…

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