TEHRAN - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is due to make his first visit to Iran as head of the Baghdad government next week, Iranian state television reported.

The television said that his deputy Barham Saleh would be visiting Tehran on Tuesday in order to prepare the ground for the visit by Maliki.

The Shiite prime minister lived in Iran in the 1980s in order to escape persecution of his Dawa party by Saddam Hussein.

The first visit by an Iraqi prime minister since the fall of Saddam Hussein was made by Maliki's predecessor Ibrahim al-Jaafari in July 2005.

The two countries waged a war between 1980 and 1988 in which around one million people died but ties have warmed considerably since the fall of Saddam, with the Islamic republic becoming a close ally of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

09/04/2006 06:22 GMT

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