Ahmadinejad: 'US aims to prolong Iraq occupation'

Iranian president: US policy continues "trend of taking wrong decisions."

Ahmadinejad hands 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Ahmadinejad hands 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday termed the new Iraq policy by US President George W Bush as "just a change of rhetoric," the ISNA news agency reported. "Unfortunately the US continues the trend of taking wrong decisions [in Iraq], and just changing the rhetoric will not stop this trend," Ahmadinejad was quoted by ISNA as saying in reference to new Iraq policies announced by Bush on Wednesday which include the dispatch of more than 20,000 extra troops into Iraq. "The main problem of the current US administration is ignoring the interests and welfare of the Iraq people. Any policy not considering this basic principle is doomed to fail," Ahmadinejad said.
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  • "The only way out for the US is leaving all state affairs to the elected government of Iraq," he added. The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Thursday condemned Bush's new policies calling them "de facto just another US effort to continue occupation of Iraq." In another development, the US said Friday that a building in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq where five Iranians were detained by US-led forces had no official diplomatic status. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the "individuals who were detained were not carrying diplomatic passports, had regular passports. And this was not a consulate. This was not an officially accredited diplomatic facility." Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, said Friday that the Iranians were working in a "liaison office" in Irbil that had government approval and was in the process of being approved as a consulate. Iraqi and Iranian officials initially had said the Iranian office was a diplomatic mission, which would have raised questions about whether those detained Thursday had diplomatic immunity. When pressed to describe the office, McCormack said it was a "building that the Iranians were using, occupying, that was Iraqi territory." He did not provide further details but insisted that it "was not quote, unquote, the `Iranian consulate."' US officials have said that Iran is encouraging the violence in Iraq by supplying money and weapons.