On Jan. 26, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri was in Iran for discussions aimed at normalizing relations with its longtime enemy. Sabri said he was invited to Iran to try to resolve "the outstanding problems which were left on the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and later on."
One of the main problems is Iraq's support of opposition groups in Iran and the Iranian government's support for Iraqi opposition figures. Iran also demands war reparations from Iraq.
The latest push comes as a growing number of officials in the United States are urging the overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as the next step in the war against terrorism. An alliance between the two countries could make it harder for the United States to bring the war on terrorism to the region. Despite their longstanding differences, the two countries have made progress in recent months. At the end of January, Iran released more than 500 Iraqi prisoners, some of the last POWs from the Iran-Iraq war.
Iran and Iraq have also agreed to resume direct flights between their capitals, Tehran and Baghdad, for the first time in two decades.
Both countries are majority Shi'ite, and in 1998 Iraq agreed to allow Iranian pilgrims to visit holy sites in Iraq for the first time since the war.