Iraq sending teams to Tehran, Washington seeking to calm tensions

BAGHDAD — Iraq will send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help “halt tension” amid fears of a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday.

His comments came two days after a rocket fired in Baghdad landed close to the U.S. Embassy.

No one has claimed responsibility Sunday’s attack on the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions.

Iran has rejected allegations of involvement and has accused U.S. officials of employing “fake intelligence.”

President Donald Trump said on Monday Iran would be met with “great force” if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East.

U.N. Iraq envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that Iraq could “be a stabilizing factor in a turbulent region” and that the country could offer a space for regional reconciliation, paving a path for a regional security dialogue.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi during a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Baghdad on May 8.AFP – Getty Images

“At the same time, we cannot ignore that Iraq faces serious challenges in preventing its territory from becoming the theater for different competitions. So, to all those feeling challenged: placing a further burden on Iraq is truly the last thing it needs,” she warned.

Without naming countries, deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the Security Council that the escalation of tensions in the Gulf had to stop and “confrontation should be replaced by dialogue.”

“Attempts to draw the country (Iraq) into an artificially stoked confrontation with the Islamic Republic of Iran are absolutely counterproductive and will only have a negative impact on the situation within Iraq and the region as a whole,” he said.