May 9, 2018 / 1:52 PM / 13 days ago

Iraqi foreign ministry says Trump's decision on Iran 'hasty and rash'

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out from the international nuclear deal with Iran is “hasty and rash”, Iraq’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministry said it was following with “deep concern the dangerous developments” resulting from Trump’s decision.

It said the nuclear agreement “had contributed to Middle East peace” and Washington’s withdrawal “goes in the direction of escalation which would bring nothing but destruction and war desolation” in the Middle East.

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 ministry statement 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.

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.

During his four-year term in office, Iraqi Prime Minister Haier al-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.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum earlier in the day expressed concern at the American decision.

“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,” said Masum, an ethnic Kurd whose position as president of the republic is largely ceremonial.

The executive powers in the country are concentrated in the hands of Abadi, who belongs to the Shi’ite Arab majority.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Jon Boyle

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