Iran Reopens Border with Iraqi Kurdistan

A009056852.jpgIran reopened five border crossing points with northern Iraq on Monday after a two-week closure. Jamal Abdullah, spokesman for the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, expressed relief that the crossings reopened at 9 a.m. Monday and added that the decision to reopen them followed a visit by a Kurdish delegation to Iran three days ago.

“Reopening borders will have its good results of economic interests for both countries,” Abdullah said.

“Bashmakh border point was open at 9 o’clock,” Rostum Kukai, a security guard at the frontier in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq, said.

An AFP correspondent witnessed trucks rolling across the border at Bashmakh, around 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

Abdul Wahid Koani, mayor of the frontier town of Joman, said the border at nearby Haj Umran was also open.

Queues of trucks had formed at the border points from early Sunday after an announcement from FNA that the crossings would reopen that day.

But by late afternoon many traders had given up hope of crossing until Monday and the trucks had dispersed.

The borders were closed by Iran on September 24 following the detention by US forces of Iranian Mahmoud Farhadi, although Iranian officials said that border crossings were closed due to prevalent insecurities in Iraq.

Iran and the Kurdish regional government say Farhadi is a businessman who was part of a commercial delegation invited to visit Sulaimaniyah.

The Iraqi government has asked the US Embassy in Baghdad to release the man, saying he was in the country on official business.

Last week, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, complained that Iran was punishing the Kurdish region for something the Kurdish authorities were not responsible for – the Iranian’s arrest. The Kurdish region relies heavily on commerce with Iran and economic ties between the two are strong.

Meantime, an Iranian official told FNA on Sunday that the country’s border crossing with Iraq at Khosrawi has been kept closed due to prevailing insecurities in the Iraqi province of Dyialah, the city of Baqoubah in particular.

Governor-General of Iran’s border province of Kermanshah Abdol-Majeed Ghafouri reiterated that despite the fact that all the required facilities and possibilities are present in Iran’s Khosrawi border crossing, the Islamic Republic has preferred to keep the passage closed due to the existing insecurities in Dyialah province, specially the city of Baqoubah.

“During our previous meetings with the Iraqi president, Mr. Talabani vowed to establish security in the said regions within a few months…but we are still witnessing continued insecurities in Dyialah province,” Ghafouri said.

He also said that in a recent message addressed to the Iraqi president, the Iranian side complained that security has not been established in the aforementioned areas within the deadline specified earlier by Mr. Talabani.

“Mr. Talabani said in response that his country has taken strong measures in this regard and that they are striving to reopen the international border crossing of Khosrawi as soon as possible,” Ghafouri added.

Meantime, the governor general noted the abduction of his trade advisor Mahmoud Farhadi by the US troops in Iraq, and said that Iraqi officials have promised the Iranian side that they would pave the way for Farhadi’s release.

“Yet, the happening of such incidents would certain leave (negative) impacts on the two countries’ exchanges,” he said, underlining that Iranian traders and businessmen would refrain from doing transactions with the Iraqi Kurdistan unless they feel secure.

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