By: Mir M.Hosseini
President Mohammad Khatami met one of the most senior Iraqi leaders since the two countries went to war 20 years ago. President Khatami held talks in a guest palace in the Qatari capital Doha with Izzat Ibrahim, Saddam Hussein's number two.
Few details have emerged from the meeting, attended by both the Iraqi and Iranian foreign ministers however Khatami expressed hopes for a new chapter in bilateral relations adding that patience was needed in normalizing those relations but if they settled their differences then economic prosperity would be possible.
Mutual distrust between Iran and Iraq persist 12 years after a disastrous eight-year war. Armed opposition groups from both countries are hiding on either side of each other's borders. Small explosions in Baghdad and Tehran have been blamed on these groups, which have little support among the wider populations of each country. Both countries have also yet to complete their exchange of the last remaining prisoners of war and there is also dispute over war reparations.
Both countries are trying to overcome obstacles as they emerge from years of US imposed isolation sharing a determination to rid the region of western military forces. Once the most powerful countries in the Persian Gulf, Iran and Iraq are determined to cooperate and the significance of the talks at these high-levels held in Qatar is that both countries stressed the need for more security co-operation.