Tehran "not very happy" with Iraq-US security bill
Tehran is "not very happy" with the security agreement inked between Iraq and the United States that sets a schedule for the withdrawal of US forces, Iran's Vice Foreign Minister Hossein Sheikholeslam said Sunday.
"We are not very happy with the security agreement," said Sheikholeslam, as quoted by the ISNA news agency. "The agreement should have rather been decided by the people through a referendum."
Under the security agreement, agreed to by the Iraqi parliament Thursday, US troops would withdraw from Iraqi cities by the end of June 2009 and from the rest of the country by the end of 2011, dpa reported.
A senior Iranian cleric said at a Friday prayer ceremony that Iraqis only approved the security agreement under pressure.
"The Iraqis were told (by the United States) to either accept it or face the consequences," Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, spokesman of the influential Guardian Council, said.
Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said last week that, considering the capability of the Iraqi government to run the country, the withdrawal of the US forces should come sooner than 2011.
Tehran's strong opposition to the security agreement is an open secret. But observers believe that, in order not to harm relations with the Iraqi government, and especially with the administration of US president-elect Barack Obama, Iran has for the time being decided to adopt a soft stance on the issue.