Rohani celebrated the "special" relations between Iran and Iraq while speaking at Tehran's Mehrabad airport on March 11 before departing for his three-day visit.
"We are very much interested to expand our ties with Iraq, particularly our transport cooperation. We have important projects that will be discussed during this visit," he added.
This is Rouhani's first official visit to Iraq and is being called "historic and noble" by his foreign minister. According to the AP the president is hoping to strengthen ties between his country's Shia majority and Iraq's Shia-led government.
This trip is also being seen as Iran's rebuttle to President Donald Trump's December trip to Iraq in December, when he said U.S. forces were in Iraq to monitor Iran's nuclear program. There are currently 5,200 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.
Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018 calling the U.S-Iran pact with Russia, China and several European nations “defective at its core" and "insane." Along with leaving the unprecedented deal Trump slapped crippling sanctions back on the country despite continual evidence from international nuclear monitors that Iran was following the rules put in place by the deal. Along with reinstating sanctions, the U.S. administration has been trying hard to get European nations to stop doing business with Teheran.
“There is more passion from our American friends to create problems,” said Michael Tockuss, general secretary of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce. “It’s intimidation,” he said. “They live on the fear,” Tockuss told the Washington Post last month.
Iran exported some US$ 9 billion goods to Iraq last year.