U.S. energy secretary in Baghdad for talks over bilateral ties

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BAGHDAD, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry met on Tuesday with top Iraqi leaders to discuss bilateral ties and means to boost economic relations, at the time the United States is imposing sanction on neighboring Iran.

Perry told Mahdi that his country supports the Iraqi government in all areas especially in energy and contributes to the development of the electric power and oil in accordance with the plans of the Iraqi government, according to the statement.

Another statement by the Iraqi presidency said that the Iraqi President Barham Salih received the U.S. secretary in his office, quoting Perry as saying that "the opportunities for energy, economic development, education and health are unlimited in Iraq."

However, foreign media reports said that Perry's meetings also discussed his country's sanctions on Iran, in addition to seeking further investment opportunities in Iraq.

A statement by the Iraqi Premier Office said Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi received Perry and his accompanying delegation in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad.

Perry arrived in Baghdad earlier in the day and was accompanied by a delegation of about 400 businessmen and officials, it added.

Washington withdrew from Iran's landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May and imposed the second batch of sanctions against Tehran in November, targeting Iran's shipping, financial and energy sectors.

Earlier, the United States has restored sanctions on Iran's oil industry as well as its banking and transport industry.

Perry's visit came as Iraqis are waiting for Mahdi to complete the formation of his cabinet, as the prime minister has only appointed 14 ministers out of 22 because of political wrangling among Iraqi factions. Enditem

The two sides "agreed on the importance of developing bilateral ties in energy, oil and other economic fields, which the Iraqi government put in the forefront of its priorities to achieve growth and prosperity of the Iraqi economy," the statement said.