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Iraq Seeking To Help Calm Iran-U.S. Tensions

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (right) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the capital, Baghdad, on May 9.

Iraq will send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help "end tension" amid concerns of a possible military conflict between the United States and Iran, the Iraqi prime minister has said.

Adel Abdul Mahdi said on May 21 that Iraq, which has close ties to both Iran and the United States, is "playing a role to calm the situation but it is not a mediation," according to state-run Iraqi media.

Relations between Tehran and Washington have plummeted since the United States a year ago pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal that curbed Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

Since then, Washington has stepped up its rhetoric and reimposed sanctions.

Washington has ordered a beefing up of U.S. military assets in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, citing "imminent threats" from Iran, and ordered the evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Iraq.

Tehran has dismissed the U.S. allegations.

Mahdi said that Iranian and U.S. officials have informed Baghdad that they have "no desire in fighting a war."

There are no Iraqi groups that wanted to push toward a war, the Iraqi prime minister added, two days after a rocket was fired into the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and landed about 500 meters from the U.S. Embassy.

No one has claimed responsibility, but U.S. government sources were quoted as saying that Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were suspected to be behind the attack.

Mahdi said he will visit Kuwait on May 22 to discuss regional issues, including the tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AP