Iran to help reconstruct historical sites in Iraq

February 14th, 2009 - 12:16 am ICT by IANS  

Tehran, Feb 13 (IANS) Iran has signed an agreement with Iraq to help reconstruct and preserve histrocial sites and museums in the war-ravaged country, the official IRNA news agency reported Friday.
According to the agreement signed Friday between the two countries, Iran will contribute to building special museums in Karbala and Najaf that will accommodate relics belonging to Shia Imams.

Hamid Baqaei, the deputy chief of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation, who is part of a high-level Iranian delegation to Iraq led by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, signed the agreement on behalf of his country.

The Iranian delegation includes top trade, industry, tourism and commerce officials, seeking the expansion of economic and cultural ties between the two neighbouring countries.

Iran has the strongest ties with the Shia-led government in Iraq and has also developed good relations with the Kurds in the north who administer a separate region of three provinces.

According to the agreement, Iraq will have to renovate a graveyard in Najaf which is highly valued by Iranians for containing the remains of about 30,000 Iranians as well as many religious figures including two prophets, namely Hud and Saleh, according to the report.

Thousands of Iranian pilgrims visit Iraq every day and under a new agreement up to two million of them are to pay homage to the country’s holy shrines every year.

Both the countries have also agreed to cooperate in fighting smuggling of cultural relics and on the smooth exchange of pilgrims.

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