Sunday, February 9, 2014

A visit to Iraq

Normalcy has returned to Baghdad in some districts, while in many others tight security measures and fear from terrorist attacks has disrupted normal life. The unsettling scenes we saw in Iraq were the remnants of decades long dictatorship and the terrible "awe and fear" operations of Mr. Bush. 
Heading a delegation from the Iranian DOE and invited by the Iraqi Minister of Environment , we visited Iraq last week. We met with high level officials including, The Prime Minister, Parliament Speaker Vice President, Foreign Minister, UNAMI Representative and Minister of Womens Affairs.
 After initial negotiations on environmental priorities, we came up with a joint implementation plan consisting of items related to education and training, monitoring and mitigation of dust storms, and international cooperation. We also decided to create three transboundary national parks to protect our common biodiversity on the borders. Our Iraqi hosts were very kind and while many, among them top officials, had lived in Iran for long times during Saddam's rule, they spoke Arabic ,Farsi and since one member of the delegation spoke Kurdish, we had a diversity of languages and cultures during meetings. Prime Minister Nouri Maleki emphasised on the importance of environmental cooperation and mentioned the resolve of his government to collaborate and to implement projects to control hot spots initiating dust storms. We also planted trees along a street in Karbala. The pilgrmage to visit four Imams ie. Imam Ali,Imam Hussein, Imam Musa Kazem and Imam Javad was inspiring. Since it was the first chance for all of us, we enjoyed this part of the trip as well. Security was very tight in all our visits and our Ambassador Mr. Danaeifar did a great job to make this visit beneficial in promoting bilateral relations

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