Iranian official offers congratulations on pick for new Iraqi PM, signaling Tehran's support

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A senior Iranian official has offered his congratulations to the Iraqi politician nominated to replace incumbent Nouri al-Maliki, suggesting key Iranian support for a new leader in Baghdad.

The Tuesday report on the official IRNA news agency quoted Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the powerful Supreme National Security Council, congratulating the Iraqi people and their leaders for choosing Haider al-Abadi to be the new premier.

Shamkhani is a close ally of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and a representative of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the council. He said Iran "supports the legal process for choosing the new Iraqi prime minister."

Iran is a key powerbroker in neighboring Iraq and influential with many of the Shiite political parties. It previously supported incumbent Nouri al-Maliki, who is struggling to stay in power.