Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki received a red-carpet welcome at the Iran's presidential palace on Tuesday at the start of his first official visit to the Shiite Muslim country since taking office in May, state-run television reported. Al-Maliki's talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were expected to cover regional issues and joint projects in energy, trade and economy. Iranian state-run television did not immediately provide details about al-Maliki's welcome or his talks with Ahmadinejad. Iraqi state TV reported that the two discussed "bilateral arrangements" but did not disclose further details. Iraq's new Shi'ite leaders have close ties to Iran, and al-Maliki spent years in Iran and Syria in exile.