TEHRAN (Fars News Agency) Iraq said on Thursday it had not repudiated a 32-year-old border treaty with Iran, despite a declaration by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that the accord was now void.
Talabani’s office said on Thursday that his remarks earlier this week did not amount to a formal repudiation of the accord.
“The Algiers Treaty is valid and not void. It is still in force and no party can unilaterally cancel the treaty. This fact is recognized by the president and he did not mean in his passing and improvised remarks to cancel the active treaty,” Talabani’s office said in a statement.
Talabani’s earlier remarks had threatened to reopen a border dispute that caused one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the Middle East.
More than 1 million people died in the 8-year Iraq imposed war on Iran from 1980 to 1988.
After that war, Iran and Iraq both agreed to abide by the Algiers agreement, which had been signed in 1975 by Iraq’s then-Vice President Saddam Hussein and the shah of Iran and defined the border between the two countries.
On Tuesday Talabani was asked by a journalist during a televised conference whether the treaty was still in force.
“This treaty has been voided by the current government,” he replied. “This was a treaty between Saddam and the shah and not a treaty between Iraq and Iran. We previously expressed our rejection of the treaty during visits to Iran.
“I tell you: the Algiers treaty is void,” he added.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Baghdad was unhappy with the terms of the treaty but recognized that it could not unilaterally revoke it.
“The Iraqi government is still committed to all previous international treaties signed by Iraq. But the government believes the Algiers treaty does not satisfy our ambitions. We have reservations toward this treaty,” he told Reuters.
“The government is looking forward to an alternative treaty that will be better than the Algiers treaty,” he said.