Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he will make his first official visit to neighboring Iran on Monday. Officials in Baghdad Saturday said Mr. Maliki's two-day visit will focus on security and political issues, as well as promoting bilateral relations with its majority Shi'ite neighbor.
Iraq and Iran fought a bloody war in the 1980's when Saddam Hussein led Iraq's then Sunni-dominated government. Tensions have eased, however, since Iraq's Shi'ite majority won a significant majority of seats in the country's last elections. Political experts say the trip by the prime minister, a Shi'ite who once lived in exile in Iran, is of concern to Washington as well as Iraq's Sunni Arab minority.
The United States, pushing for international sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, has accused Iran of providing support to Shi'ite militias in Iraq - a charge Tehran denies.