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Iraqi Leader Says Disagrees With U.S. Sanctions On Iran, But Will Honor Them

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on August 7 that he does not agree with U.S. sanctions reimposed this week on Iran, but will abide by them to protect his country's interests.

"As a matter of principle, we are against sanctions in the region. Blockades and sanctions destroy societies and do not weaken regimes," he said at a news conference in Baghdad.

"We consider them a strategic mistake and incorrect, but we will abide by them to protect the interests of our people," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed that companies doing business with Tehran will be barred from operating in the vast U.S. marketplace.

Iraq, itself the target of a 12-year international economic boycott when Saddam Hussein ruled the country in the 1990s, is allied with both Washington in its war against Islamic extremists and Tehran, with which it has extensive cultural and trade ties.

Shi'ite-led Iran is also heavily involved in Iraq's political affairs and sponsors powerful Shi'ite militia groups that played a role in defeating the Islamic State extremist group last year.

Because of its friendly relations with both Washington and Tehran, the U.S. sanctions put Abadi's outgoing government in a difficult position.

Iraq is the second-largest buyer of Iranian non-oil exports, buying some $6 billion worth of goods from its eastern neighbor in 2017.

It also buys Iranian-generated electricity to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks.

Iranian private companies recently cut off power supplies to Iraq's oil-rich coastal province of Basra over outstanding payments.

"We are committed to protecting our people and their interests," Abadi said.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters