The head of the Iranian Central Bank, Abdel Nasser Hemmati, headed today, Monday, to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on a visit that was not announced in advance, in light of the tightening of US sanctions on his country, as a new package of sanctions imposed last Thursday affected 18 Iranian banks.
He told reporters on his way to Baghdad: “After we made previous visits to Iraq to follow up on the release of Iranian funds … the probability of freeing Iranian resources in Iraq is high.”
Iran’s trade partners, including Iraq, are finding it difficult to pay Tehran’s dues in hard currencies, due to the US sanctions, even though the Trump administration grants Baghdad a partial exemption from those punishment.
Hemmati added, according to what was reported by “Tasnim” news agency, that he is traveling to Baghdad at the head of a banking and commercial delegation to hold talks with Iraqi banking and economic officials.
On the 14th of last September, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, made major changes in a number of government leadership positions, concentrated in the fields of economy and security, and included assigning the post of central bank governor to Mustafa Ghaleb Mekhaif, succeeding Ali Al-Alaq, as happened Appointment of Salem Jawad Abdul Hadi Chalabi, Director of the Iraqi Trade Bank.
The Iranian “Tasnim” news agency considered that “changing the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq and the CEO of the Commercial Bank of Iraq could be a prelude to the return of dues to Iran from foreign exchange frozen in Iraq.”
The agency quoted unnamed banking sources as saying, “The recent changes in the Iraqi banking system could make it easier for Iran to obtain its resources in Iraq.”
Earlier, Abdel Nasser Hemmati, head of the Central Bank of Iran, said that his country “reached an agreement with Iraq last year, allowing Tehran’s resources to be used in Baghdad to buy basic goods that are not subject to sanctions.”
Tehran says that according to the agreement concluded with Baghdad, “the Iraqi government is obligated to pay Iran gas money in euros and electricity money in dollars,” but with the start of a new round of sanctions, the Iraqis declared that they could not pay in dollars and offered to pay in dinars.
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