Tehran says it respects Iraq's decision on US security pact
The Iranian government respects the Iraqi parliament's decision to sign a new security agreement with the United States and awaits the outcome of a referendum next year, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said Sunday.
"We hope that the wise decision by the parliament will prepare suitable grounds for the referendum in six months," the spokesman said at a press briefing in Tehran, reported dpa.
Under the security agreement approved 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. A referendum on the issue is scheduled for May next year.
"Our main concern is the necessity of ending the occupation and formation of a broad national administration. We further respect Iraq's national will and the standpoint of the religious jurisprudence in Iraq," Ghashghavi said.
Tehran's strong opposition to the security agreement is an open secret. But analysts believe that in order to not harm relations with the Iraqi government, and especially with the incoming administration of US president-elect Barack Obama, Iran has for now decided to adopt a softer stance on the issue.
The spokesman said he hoped the US would not do anything unwise in the next six months, until the referendum, which could alter the schedule.
Vice Foreign Minister Hossein Sheikholeslam said Sunday that Tehran was "not very happy" with the security agreement.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said last month that, considering the capability of the Iraqi government to run the country, the withdrawal of the US forces should come sooner than 2011.