TEHRAN — Representatives of the secular bloc of former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for talks with top Iranian officials, the Tehran based Al-Alam television reported.
The Arabic-language news channel said the delegation is headed by Rafi al-Issawi and started its trip by holding talks with parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani."
The report said they also plan to meet Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the secretary of Iran's supreme national security council, Saeed Jalili, "focusing their talks on bilateral relations and the recent general election in Iraq."
The ISNA news agency said Issawi met with Larijani and Jalili, during which the Iranian officials emphasised that Iran is interested in seeing its western neighbour living in peace and tranquility.
"The existence of a stable and calm Iraq serves the interest of the region, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is interested in seeing the Iraqi people in prosperity," Larijani said.
"We hope that all political groups based on their (political) weight participate in the future of the country in an atmosphere free from occupation and foreign intervention," Iran's top lawmaker added.
Jalili was quoted by ISNA as saying "Iran places importance on Iraq's security and stability and wants the formation of a government which is made up of all political parties who triumphed in the elections."
Issawi told Al-Alam television that his visit was to aimed at promoting ties with Iran.
"We want to have relations based on mutual respect. We gave this message clearly to the Iranian side and we told them that Iraqiya (Allawi's bloc) is ready to build the best of relations with its Arab and Muslim neighbours, especially with Islamic Republic of Iran," he quoted by the channel's website as saying.
On Saturday, Iran's ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi said representatives of Allawi's bloc would visit Tehran in the coming days, calling on rival factions in Iraq to form a government of national unity following the indecisive outcome of the March 7 general election.
Qomi also rejected accusations that Shiite-dominated Iran was trying to influence its smaller western neighbour through its influence with Iraq's Shiite majority community, which has led the government since after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime.
Allawi's list swept Sunni Arab provinces to take the largest share of the vote nationwide with 91 seats in parliament against 89 for the bloc of Nuri al-Maliki in an upset victory over the incumbent premier.
Both men are engaged in a protracted process to try to gain the 163 seats necessary to form a government.
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