Iranian FM: US worsening Iraq situation

Laments Iraqis' pain and suffering; US raids Iranian-made weapons in Iraq.

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May 4, 2007 16:33
2 minute read.
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Iran's foreign minister on Friday said the US-led occupation of Iraq has caused pain and suffering and worsened the situation in the war-torn country. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters that the world should not be dominated by one or two powers, and blamed the United States' policies in Iraq for bolstering the deteriorating situation there. "The polices of the occupation forces in Iraq are basically flawed, and the policies have failed, and we must try to correct these policies," Mottaki said. Mottaki was in this Red Sea resort for an international conference on the future of Iraq that brought together Iraq's neighbors and other world powers including the US. Mottaki's speech angered the Iraqi delegation, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has sought to bridge the disputes between Teheran and Washington and - more broadly - rally all the deeply divided nations of the region behind a plan to stabilize Iraq. His comments were just "to settle accounts," said one Maliki aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "We didn't expect it to be in this manner." Mottaki told the delegates that "the continuation of and increase in terrorist acts in Iraq originates from the flawed approaches adopted by the foreign troops. Thus, in our view, the continuation of occupation lies at the origin of the crisis." "The United States must accept the responsibilities arising from the occupation of Iraq, and should not finger point or put the blame on others," he said. Later Friday, Mottaki told reporters the world should not be dominated by one or two powers, and blamed the United States' policies in Iraq for bolstering the deteriorating situation there. "The polices of the occupation forces in Iraq are basically flawed, and the policies have failed, and we must try to correct these policies," Mottaki said. Iraq had hoped that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mottaki would meet during the conference, which was ending Friday. But the only contact between the two was a wary exchange of pleasantries over lunch on Thursday. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Friday that ambassadors from Iran and the United States held talks on the sidelines of the meeting. He said that "there was a meeting on experts level today. I don't know what happened during this meeting but I believe it was positive and indications are positive." He then clarified that he meant "ambassadors," instead of experts. It was the second such meeting, at a lower than foreign minister level, since a similar Iraq conference held in Baghdad in March. Rice told reporters at a separate press conference that the US was prepared to talk to Iran but only if the Teheran government first agreed to halt uranium enrichment and roll back its disputed nuclear program. In Iraq, US-led forces detained 16 suspected militants Friday during raids in Baghdad's main Shi'ite district targeting a cell allegedly smuggling a powerful weapon from Iran into Iraq that can pierce armored vehicles, the military said. The military also announced that its forces had discovered and destroyed several caches of weapons over the last few months south of Baghdad, including Iranian-made rockets and mortars. Elsewhere, the US military identified two more al-Qaida aides killed during a US operation this week targeting a senior propagandist for the terror network.


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