Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tarek Aziq said the time is right for Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to forge closer economic ties and benefit from their different strengths, a newspaper reported in Beirut Monday.
"It is normal to establish economic complementarily between Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan," Aziz said in an interview in Baghdad with the Lebanese newspaper As Safir.
"Circumstances are propitious for its establishment, particularly because of the regional situation, common interests in such complementarily and the absence of any political obstacle," Aziz said.
As for relations with neighboring Turkey, Aziz said that "despite important political differences between the two countries and the Western air strikes launched from bases there against Iraq, (Istanbul) is committed to maintain close economic relations with Iraq."
He said annual trade ties between Iraq and Turkey reached one billion dollars.
Aziz explained that "Iraq needs services and goods offered by Lebanon, which in turn needs Iraqi oil."
"It is therefore normal to reach economic complementarily between Lebanon and Iraq," he said.
Aziz said the amelioration of ties between Iraq and Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon, "facilitates communication" between Beirut and Baghdad.
He highlighted "the large horizons in relations, mainly economic, between Syria and Iraq as well as the possibility of boosting bilateral trade ties" which could have "important repercussions on the region."
Aziz said the international embargo imposed since 1990 on Iraq after its invasion of neighboring Kuwait has begun to "wither away" while warning that the Middle East was heading to an "explosion" because of the Palestinian uprising against Israel – BEIRUT (AFP)
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