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Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Iran urges neighbors to support Iraq
Tehran Times Political Desk
KUWAIT CITY – Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki on Tuesday called on Iraq’s neighbors to help establish peace and security in the war-ravaged country.
Addressing a meeting of foreign ministers from Iraq’s neighbors and Western powers in Kuwait, Mottaki expressed concern over the presence of occupying forces in Iraq where terrorist attacks have jeopardized the entire region’s security.
Referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s efforts to defuse the country’s security crisis, Mottaki said the current sensitive situation requires regional states to support Iraq’s political process more seriously.
He slammed foreign troops’ “suspicious” role in provoking violence in Iraq, stating that a highly trained and properly equipped Iraqi military is capable of establishing full security in the country.
“The Islamic Republic is highly suspicious of the role of occupying forces in provoking conflicts… and Iraq’s political and security woes. It believes that the Iraqi government can better resolve the crises without the interference of outsiders.”
“Iran firmly believes that leaving the matters in the hands of Iraqi nation and its elected government and providing the country’s military and security forces with proper equipment will pave the way for the swift settlement of security and political problems,” Mottaki stated.
------------ Iraq PM chides neighbors for lack of support
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki chided neighboring states on Tuesday for not beefing up ties with Baghdad or writing off Iraq's debts now that Saddam Hussein is gone and Iraq is no longer a threat to the region, Reuters reported.
Maliki, speaking at the meeting, did not name any countries but his remarks appeared aimed at Arab states that have only low-level ties with his government.
He said Iraq was now a vastly different country from that under Saddam, who ruled Iraq with an iron fist for decades until he was ousted in 2003 by U.S.-led forces.
""Iraq today is different from the previous Iraq which assaulted its neighbors. Iraq ... is ready to play a constructive role in security and stability in the region,"" Maliki said at the start of the meeting.
He urged neighboring states to open embassies in Baghdad.
""It's difficult for us to explain why diplomatic ties have not been resumed with Iraq. Many other foreign countries have kept diplomatic missions in Baghdad regardless of security considerations,"" Maliki said.
No ambassador from an Arab nation has been stationed permanently in Baghdad since Egypt's envoy was kidnapped and killed shortly after arriving in 2005. Visits by top officials from Arab states, which have been reluctant to extend full legitimacy to Iraq's government, are also rare.
By comparison, Iraq has growing ties with Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has pushed Arab states to be more responsive on ties and debt relief, said Iraq was being reintegrated into the Arab neighborhood. Some states had stepped forward to offer diplomatic representation in Baghdad, she told reporters without providing any specifics.
""It is crucial that we build on the momentum,"" Rice urged Arab nations and others. ""We urge Iraq's neighbors to strengthen their ties,"" said Rice.
Promises have been made by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to open up embassies in Baghdad.
The Kuwait meeting is a follow-on from gatherings of Iraq's neighbors as well as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council that were held in Turkey and Egypt last year.
The next meeting would be held in Baghdad, Rice said, calling it ""yet another sign that things are moving forward.