Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi’s press office canceled a planned trip to Iran this week. Oddly enough, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied that a visit by Abadi was even scheduled to begin with. Prime Minister Abadi’s office claimed the trip was canceled “because of his busy schedule,” but Abadi is still intending to visit Turkey in the coming days despite this. An anonymous Iraqi government official admitted to local media that the Iranian government was responsible for the trip’s cancellation.

Over the weekend Prime Minister Abadi held a meeting with the National Security Council where he expressed the view that Iranian-Iraqi relations were in “excellent” shape. The office of the prime minister stated on social media that, “The council denies wrong interpretations and politicized statements regarding the official position of Iraq [regarding US sanction] which condemns the policy of starvation of people.” The Facebook post added that the relations between the two nations were “Excellent” and the “preservation” of them was a top priority of the prime minister. The cancellation was reported only hours after Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Bahram Gasemi claimed that there was no official declaration of the visit by Iraq’s prime minister. It was reported over the weekend that the Iraqi prime minister “will head to Turkey on Tuesday and Iran on Wednesday to discuss economic affairs with the two countries,” according to local media.

It’s not out of the question that Iran’s recent economic trends due to the sanction put into place by the United States have played a part in the situation. Prime Minister Abadi has made it known that the sanctions over Iran will do very little to affect Iraq’s economy. He claimed the sanctions were an “essential and strategic mistake.” He added that, “Frankly speaking, we will not react to them. Yes, we will comply with them basically because it is a greater state than us,” in a very diplomatic stance on the matter. Abadi claimed that, “In principle, we are completely against sanctions. Iraq has paid the largest amount of money for sanctions. I call it oppression. The sanctions were imposed on the former regime but affected our people; sanctions destroy communities.”

Featured image: Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gestures, during a press conference, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. Iraq said Saturday that its war on the Islamic State is over after more than three years of combat operations drove the extremists from all of the territory they once held. -Abadi announced Iraqi forces were in full control of the country’s border with Syria during remarks at a conference in Baghdad, and his spokesman said the development marked the end of the military fight against IS. | AP Photo/Karim Kadim