Iran, Iraq discuss border issues

First such talks since 1980 war focus on displaced posts, weapons smuggling.

Ahmadinejad 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
Ahmadinejad 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
An Iranian and an Iraqi official on Tuesday discussed border issues between the two nations, the first such talks since the 1980 war launched by Saddam Hussein, Iranian state television reported. At a meeting in Teheran, the two discussed the damaged and displaced border posts and signs along the shared 1,280 kilometer long boundary, as well as the smuggling through the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway, the TV said. Iran's Gen. Qassem Rezai, commander of Iranian border guards, and Iraq's border guards' chief, Gen. Mohsen Abdolhassan Lazem "exchanged views on border-related issues" for the first time in 27 years, the TV said. Rezai told the TV that the two sides talked about rearranging and repairing border signs and posts and also discussed the smuggling of weapons and alcohol through the Shatt al-Arab. Many of the border signs and posts were destroyed or displaced in the war and also after Saddam was toppled from power by the US-led invasion. Iraq's Lazem expressed hope that the border line would be "reorganized soon." He did not elaborate. Iraq has more than 37,000 Iraqi forces deployed in 413 border outposts, the TV said. Saddam waged an eight-year-long war against Iran in 1980, which left more than one million casualties in both countries. The Shatt al-Arab - which the Iranians call the Arvand River - waterway is formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, meandering south between Iran and Iraq until it spills into the northern Persian Gulf. It provides Iraq with its only outlet to the sea. The Iraq-Iran war ended without a formal peace treaty. Because the two countries have not agreed on updated charts, there is no universal agreement on exactly where the border line runs in the important waterway. The issue became the focus of an incident in March, when Iran captured 15 British sailors in and kept them for 13 days for allegedly trespassing into Iranian waters in the Shatt al-Arab. The British insisted the sailors were in Iraqi waters when the naval units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized them. At the time, the British were inspecting an Indian-flagged ship suspected of smuggling cars.