Iraq, Iran Reach Agreement on Security
Wednesday, November 29, 2006; 1:25 PM
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iraq's president said Wednesday he had reached a security agreement with Iran, which the United States accuses of fueling the chaos in the war-torn country. Iran's president called on countries to stop backing "terrorists" in Iraq and for the Americans to withdraw.
Tehran is believed to back some of the Shiite militias blamed in the vicious sectarian killings that have thrown the country into chaos. The United States has said the Iraqi government should press Iran to stop interfering in its affairs in a bid to calm the violence.
Presidents Jalal Talabani of Iraq and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran held talks Wednesday hours before U.S. President George W. Bush was due to meet with the Iraqi prime minister in Jordan in talks aimed at finding a solution to Iraq's spiraling bloodshed.
Talabani gave no details on the security agreement with Iran, and Ahmadinejad made no mention of any deal at a joint press conference in Tehran.
"We discussed in the fields of security, economy, oil and industry. Our agreement was complete," Talabani told reporters. "This visit was 100 percent successful. Its result will appear soon."
It was not clear if Talabani's comments reflected an agreement by Tehran to try to rein in Shiite militias. Most of the militias are run by political parties that are a powerful part of the coalition government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has resisted U.S. pressure to crack down on the militias.
Ahmadinejad repeated his calls for the United States to withdraw its forces from Iraq.
"I advise you to leave Iraq," he said, addressing the Americans. "Based on a timetable, transfer the responsibilities to Iraqi government. This will agree to your interests, too."
He urged countries to stop backing militants in Iraq, saying, "supporting terrorists is the ugliest act that they can do." He did not specify which countries he was referring to.
Ahmadinejad said "extremists should be dismissed (from the Iraqi government) no matter to which group and ethnicity they belong to. This is the only way to salvation."
"Enemies of Iraq are trying to create differences and extend hostility among the Iraqi people," he said.
The United States accuses Iran and its ally Syria of stirring up violence in Iraq. Tehran denies this, saying it seeks calm in its neighbor and that an end to the bloodshed can only come when U.S. forces withdraw.
Al-Maliki and Talabani both have longtime ties with Iran. The Iraqi president has been in Iran the past three days, meeting Ahmadinejad and the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Talabani and Ahmadinejad attended a ceremony for the signing of two memorandums of understanding for cooperation in education and industry.
Ahmadinejad vowed that Iran "will stand by its Iraqi brothers," saying "no one can divide nations of Iran and Iraq."