TEHRAN, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday urged strengthening relations between the Islamic republic and Iraq, Tehran Times daily reported.
"The Islamic republic's officials are very serious and determined on expanding ties with Iraq. I deeply believe in that too," Khamenei said in a meeting with the visiting Iraqi President Barham Salih.
"A dear, powerful, independent and developed Iraq would be very beneficial to Iran and we will stand by our Iraqi brothers," the top leader added.
The Iranian leader also urged unity among Iraqis as "a way for the country to triumph over enemies."
"The only way to fight (enemies') schemes is to preserve and boost unity among Iraqi groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis," Khamenei pointed out.
For his part, Salih said that meeting with the leader of the Islamic republic was a "big pride" for him.
"I have come to Tehran with a clear and obvious message that the factors and substances that bind the two nations of Iran and Iraq are rooted in history and are unchangeable."
He also said that the Iraqi government hopes to tap cooperation capacities with Iran to help the reconstruction of Iraq.