TEHRAN (FNA) – Iran and Iraq have agreed to reactivate some elements of a 1975 border agreement which seemed to cause a row in December when the Iraqi president said the treaty was void, a statement he later retracted.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani appeared to reopen an old border row in December when he said the 32-year-old Algiers treaty had been “voided by the current government”, a statement he then reversed but said Iraq wanted to negotiate changes.
An Iraqi team arrived in Tehran this week to discuss the agreement which covers the border along the Arvand Rud waterway, known as Shatt al-Arab, at the head of the Persian Gulf.
The dispute over the waterway was an excuse for the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hossein to impose an eight-year-long war on Iran in the 1980s, in which around 1 million people died.
“The deputy foreign ministers of Iran and Iraq agreed on continuing expert talks about details over using the Arvand Rud and also on problems related to their joint borders,” Iran’s Resalat newspaper reported.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Reza Baqeri held talks with Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hajj Humoud to discuss establishing “security at joint borders and removing existing problems”, Resalat reported, without giving details.
They also agreed to reactivate “technical mechanisms” mentioned in the 1975 treaty and additional protocols, the daily said. The report did not give details about those mechanisms.
Baqeri also said that the 1975 treaty was not negotiable, but he added that he had agreed with his Iraqi counterpart on the importance of delineating the border and constructing border signs destroyed during the war.
The Iraqi official said their agreement during the talks in Tehran showed the two countries’ desire for good neighborly relations, adding work on restoring river conditions would start once a final deal was reached.
The border talks come ahead of a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iraq in March, the first official trip to Iraq by an Iranian leader since the 1979 Iranian revolution that overthrew the US-backed Shah.