Iraq to send teams to Tehran, Washington to ‘halt tension’

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Iraq will send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help “halt tension” amid fears of a confrontation between the United States and Iran in the Middle East, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi said on Tuesday.

He said there were no Iraqi groups that wanted to push toward a war, two days after a rocket fired in Baghdad landed close to the US embassy.

No one has claimed responsibility. US government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shiite militias with ties to Tehran were behind the rocket attack.

Iran has rejected allegations of involvement in attacks.

Abdul Mehdi, whose country has close ties to both Iran and the US, said that Iranian and US officials have informed Iraq that they have “no desire in fighting a war.”

The Iraqi PM said that Baghdad is “playing a role to calm the situation but it is not a mediation.” He said he will visit Kuwait on Wednesday to discuss regional issues.

Abdul Mehdi further added that Iraq is seeking alternatives for oil exports should Strait of Hormuz be closed amid the US-Iran tension.

The prime minister added that it is important to work with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Turkey over alternative oil export route.

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

Last Wednesday, the US has ordered the departure of ‘non-emergency US government employees’ from Iraq, the US Department of State said in a statement.

In a level four travel advisory, which read “do not travel,” the state department cited “terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict” as the reason behind the decision.

The move comes amid heightened tensions across the Gulf region.