Iraq's president: Iran sanctions won't work

Iraq's president: Iran sanctions won't work

Iraq's president said new sanctions against Iran won't work and warned Saturday that Iraq will never allow Israel or any other country to use its airspace to carry out an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, AP reported.

President Jalal Talabani said the six major powers dealing with the Iran nuclear issue - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - should conduct "a real negotiation" with Iran and guarantee Tehran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

"Perhaps it will work - perhaps," he told a news conference.

Iran and Iraq fought a war from 1980-88, but relations between the two Shiite majority countries have improved following the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the election of a Shiite-led government in Iraq.

Talibani was asked whether Iraq believes the Iranian government when it says it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons, especially in light of this week's revelation of a new and still unfinished Iranian uranium enrichment facility.

"I think the Iranian leadership explained that the bomb is against Islam because it's killing innocent people," he said. "So they said openly that they are not for having the bomb but only the use of technology."

The United States, Britain and France have been pushing for heavier sanctions if Iran does not agree to end enrichment, which many nations believe is part of Tehran's drive to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is designed to generate electricity.

The Iranians are scheduled to meet the six powers on Oct. 1 in Geneva to try to move toward resolving the long-running standoff.

Asked whether a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran would be helpful if no progress is made, Talibani replied: "I don't think that sanctions will oblige Iran to change its policy."

"I think the first step is negotiation, is dialogue," he said.

Talibani reiterated Iraq's support for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

"We are for having the right of all nations for peaceful energy and technology," he said, "and we are against any producing of the bomb in the Middle East."

Talibani was asked about possible Israeli military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, given its location between the two countries.

"Iraq will never permit any country to use Iraqi land or sky in any war and any aggression," he said.

"Of course, we are worried about any kind of new war in the Middle East," Talibani said. "We are for keeping the stability in the area."

On other issues, the Iraqi leader said he had asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting Saturday to send a high-level U.N. official to Iraq "to investigate all the attacks and all the crimes against the Iraqi people," without naming any country.

"I think he was positive towards this demand," Talibani said.

Talabani told the General Assembly Thursday that a recent series of bombings and terrorist attacks that killed dozens of people has reached the level of genocide and crimes against humanity and should be punished under international law.

While Talibani named no countries, Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, on Thursday again claimed that Syria continues to harbor Iraqi insurgents. He said that chances were "nearly hopeless" to resolve disputes with Syria over claims it is providing refuge for former President Saddam Hussein loyalists blamed for a pair of truck bombings on Aug. 19 that killed about 100 people in Baghdad.

Turkey and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa are mediating talks between Iraq and Syria. Talibani said negotiations should continue "and we hope that future meetings will bring results."

On another issue, Iraq has been pressing the Security Council to cancel all sanctions and more than 70 resolutions adopted after Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, saying the country is now a democracy that poses no threat to international peace and security.

In a report to the council in July, the secretary-general urged Iraq and Kuwait to discuss alternatives to payment of the $24 billion debt Baghdad owes Kuwait as reparations for the invasion.

Talibani said he had a "very positive" meeting with Kuwait's prime minister and assured him that Iraq is committed to implementing all Security Council resolutions.

"We expressed our readiness to give any guarantees, any assurances, about the borders," he said. "We talked about investing the compensation money in Iraq investments and they were very cordial and they told us they were ready to improve bilateral relations."

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