Iranian leader tells Iraq not to trust US

Iran Materials 4 January 2009 23:19 (UTC +04:00)

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on the Iraqi premier not to trust the United States, ISNA news agency reported Sunday, dpa reported.

"As long as the Americans are in Iraq, there will be no relaxation for the Iraqi people. The presence of US and British forces in Iraq is the main basis for all the numerous problems, including terrorism and internal disputes," the Khamenei told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

According to press reports, al-Maliki elaborated on the security pact signed last month between Iraq and the US, towards which Iran has a negative approach.

"There have been some worries in Iran over the security pact as the Americans are not reliable and Iraq should not trust any of their promises as the main US aim is a permanent and long-term base in the region," he said. Khamenei has the final say on all state affairs in line with the Iranian constitution.

Iran wants US forces to withdraw from Iraq even earlier that scheduled in the pact - withdrawal from Iraqi cities by the end of June 2009 and from the rest of the country by the end of 2011 - and leave all state affairs to the Iraqi government.

The Ayatollah added that the Iraqi government should prove to its people that it would not be intimidated by US threats and not retreat from national interests.

He reiterated that Iran's aim was to see tranquility and stability in Iraq and Tehran would therefore make all efforts to realize this aim.

Ending his two-day visit to Tehran on Sunday, al-Maliki said Iraq wanted Iran's assistance in reconstructing the country.

"We are interested in availing ourselves of Iran's experience and expertise for Iraq's reconstruction and further want expansion of ties in all fields," the website of Iran's state television network IRIB quoted al-Maliki as saying.

The Iraq premier, on his fourth visit to Iran within the last two and a half years, said his talks with Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were positive and constructive and voiced optimism towards the future trend of relations with Iran.

Iran's Vice-President Parviz Davoudi said that the two states have agreed to boost their bilateral trade volume from 4 to 10 billion dollars per year.

Davoudi added that the establishment of a cross-border market and a free trade zone, transfer of electricity via the western Iranian province of Kurdistan to Iraq, and finalizing construction of an oil pipeline between the southern Iraqi city of Basra and Iran's nearby port of Abadan were among the agreements of the Tehran summit.

Ahmadinejad had on Saturday promised al-Maliki Iran's full help in enabling Iraq to gain peace and stability and said it was "Iran's Islamic and humanitarian duty" to stand beside the Iraqi nation.

The two officials are also believed to have talked about US policy in Iraq under the incoming administration of president-elect Barack Obama.