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Iraq Asks Iran to Stop Flow of Militants

Ahmadinejad also said Iran hoped the United States will leave Iraq soon.

"This trip will strengthen bilateral relations. Iran and Iraq, as two brotherly neighbors, will stand by each other and unwanted guests (U.S.-led coalition forces) will leave the region," he said.

Al-Maliki described the talks as "very constructive" and called Iran "a very important country, a good friend and brother."

Since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003, Iraq has sought closer ties with Iran and to heal scars left by the 1980-88 war that killed more than 1 million people on both sides.

Al-Maliki's Shiite-led government has strong ties with mainly Shiite Iran, and they are growing even closer, with Baghdad sealing deals last month for Tehran to provide it with gasoline, kerosene and cooking fuel amid a shortage in Iraq. Al-Maliki spent years in Iran and Syria in exile.

An Iraqi economic delegation visited Iran just before al-Maliki to discuss further petroleum deals, including the possibility of Iranian investment in Iraq's fuel sector, said Haidar al-Obadi, another Dawa party parliamentarian.

In July 2005, former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari made the first visit to Iran by an Iraqi premier since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam.


Associated Press Writer Qassem Abdul-Zahra in Cairo contributed to this report.

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