BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq's prime minister will visit Iran on Monday, the government said Saturday.
Nouri al-Maliki's two-day visit will focus on security and bilateral relations, the Cabinet said in a statement.
The visit will come a week after al-Maliki's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, visited Tehran as head of a delegation that included the minister of state for foreign affairs, and the ministers of trade, planning and finance.
The trip "is to confirm the establishment of friendly and balanced relations based on common interest and respect of the sovereignty of the two countries without any interference in internal affairs," the statement said.
The announcement comes a day after reports emerged of a border incident in which Iranian border guards detained an Iraqi patrol.
Iraq's Defense Ministry issued a statement Saturday saying it had begun an investigation into the incident, saying the seven-man patrol — an officer, an interpreter and five soldiers — were detained as they drove near a border station in the border area of Khanaqin, 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Baghdad close to the Iranian border.
Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on Friday that the patrol had entered Iranian territory, crossing the border in Maymak, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) southwest of Tehran.
Neither the Iraqi ministry nor IRNA gave details of when the incident occurred.
U.S. officials have accused the Islamic Republic of not doing enough to stop militants from infiltrating Iraq across the shared 1,600-kilometer (nearly 1,000 mile)-long porous border. But they have still encouraged Iraq to have good relations with all of its neighbors, including Iran.
Since the U.S.-led invasion swept Saddam from power in 2003, Iraq has tried to build closer ties with Iran and heal scars left by the 1980-88 war that killed more than 1 million people on both sides.
Iraq's now dominant majority Shiite community has worked to establish good relations with the Shiite religious regime in Tehran.
In July 2005, former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari made a landmark visit to Iran, the first by an Iraqi premier since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.
Since then, Iraq has tried to build closer ties with Iran and heal scars left by the 1980-88 war that killed more than 1 million people on both sides.
Relations between Iraq and Iran remained cool after their eight-year war, with Iran supporting anti-Saddam groups and the former Iraqi leader hosting the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian militia that fought the Shiite religious regime in Tehran.