TEHRAN, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday that there is no limit for expansion of ties between Iran and Iraq.
Tehran and Baghdad can work together closely in a wide range of areas, and there are no limitations to the development of ties as well as cooperation between the two, Khamenei said at a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
One of the areas for cooperation would be science, Khamenei was quoted as saying by Press TV.
The Iranian leader praised what he called the performance of the Iraqi government in the country over the past few years.
"The efforts you are making for your country today are invaluable. Of course, Iraq has still far more needs to be met," he added.
The Iraqi minister expressed hope that his talks with the Iranian officials during the current visit would lead to an expansion of mutual ties in various fields.
Also, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described his country's ties with neighboring Iraq as "strategic" during a meeting with Maliki on Thursday.
Rouhani urged for developing mutual ties with Iraq in all fields, particularly economic and infrastructure areas, on a long- term basis.
The Iranian president further called for expanding cooperation between the two countries on environmental issues, saying that Iran and Iraq must work together to tackle sandstorms, which has plagued the two neighbors for years.
As for the Syrian crisis, Rouhani said the upcoming Geneva II conference on Syria, scheduled for January, must facilitate " completely free elections" in the Arab state.
"The Geneva II conference must emphasize the complete expulsion of terrorists from the country as well as completely free elections without any precondition," Rouhani said on his official website.
"Our shared responsibility is to defend the ideals and demands of the Syrian nation," he said at the meeting with Maliki.
Iran, the region's main ally of the Syrian government, has condemned foreign intervention and terrorists' involvement in the Syrian conflict.
It has also urged for a ceasefire in Syria prior to Geneva II conference.
For his part, Maliki congratulated the Iranian government on its nuclear agreement reached recently with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
On Thursday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said Iran attaches importance to the restoration of stability and security to Iraq, official IRNA news agency reported.
In the meeting with Iraqi prime minister, Zarif said both countries should improve relations mainly in the economic arena to serve the two nations' interests.
He also expressed regret over the terrorist activities in Iraq and Syria, calling for containing terrorism in the region.
Maliki expressed his satisfaction with the Geneva deal and said there is no doubt that "this significant achievement will serve the interests of all countries in the region and in the world."
Expansion of relations between Iran and Iraq is very important, he said, adding that the Iraqi government is set to help expand mutual cooperation.
He also said terrorism is not limited within certain borders but will engulf the entire region if not controlled.
On Wednesday, Iranian First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri said at a meeting with Maliki that Tehran and Baghdad play a determining role in the reinforcement of regional peace and stability, Press TV reported.
Terrorist groups seek to disturb peace in the Middle East to harm regional countries, he said, alluding to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Iran is ready to help Iraq rebuild the country, Jahangiri said, adding that there are good opportunities for Iranian businessmen to invest in Iraq's oil and gas, housing, development and trade projects.
The Iraqi official welcomed the contribution of Iranian firms to the reconstruction of his country. Iran-Iraq trade currently stands at about 3 billion U.S. dollars, which could even reach 15 billion dollars, said Maliki.
He underlined the need for security cooperation between Iran and Iraq in the fight against terrorism in the region.
Maliki arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for an official visit. During his visit, he exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments with senior Iranian officials and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties in various sectors.
The U.S. removal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003, and the ensuing rise of Iraqi Shiites helped by Iran, created a new dynamic between two the neighbors. The two nations, which fought each other in the 1980s, have re-established close ties.