May 9, 2018 / 12:30 PM / 16 days ago

Iraq president regrets Trump decision to quit Iran accord

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi President Fuad Masum expressed regret on Wednesday over the decision by President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of an international accord that aims to curb Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iraq's President Fuad Masum attends a meeting with political leaders in the presidential palace, ahead of the parliamentary election in Baghdad, Iraq May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Masum also welcomed the decision of the other signatories of the agreement, including Iran and European nations, to stick with the 2015 deal despite the U.S. pullout.

Shi’ite-led Iraq lies on the faultline between Shi’ite Iran and the mostly Sunni Muslim Arab world. Iran became the main foreign power broker in Iraq after the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, with its local allies controlling the security services.

“The (nuclear) agreement marked a major achievement in bolstering the chances of peace and progress for all the states of the region and the international community,” Masum said in a statement, the first official Iraqi reaction to Trump’s move.

Trump said on Tuesday that the 2015 deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for measures restricting its nuclear programme, did not go far enough in removing the threat posed by Iran to the United States and its allies in the Middle East.

Masum is an ethnic Kurd and his position as president of the Iraqi republic is largely ceremonial. The executive powers in the country are concentrated in the hands of the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, who belongs to the Shi’ite Arab majority.

During his four-year term in office, Abadi has cautiously trodden a diplomatic middle course between Tehran and Washington, ensuring the cooperation of both in the war against Islamic State hardline Sunni militants.

Abadi is seeking a second term in elections due on Saturday. He is facing two allies of Iran, ex-prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and Shi’ite militia leader Hadi al-Amiri.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; editing by Gareth Jones

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