Iranian envoy: We handed over Al-Qaeda members to their countries

Other News Materials 5 May 2008 16:19 (UTC +04:00)

Tehran handed over members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, who were once in Iran, to their own countries, Iranian ambassador to Baghdad said in interview remarks published Monday, reported dpa .

In an interview with the Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat, ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi said Tehran was not keeping any al-Qaeda operators to use them when necessary.

"I feel sorry about the attitude of some Iraqi friends," Qomi said, commenting on accusations by Iraqi officials that Iran was sheltering al-Qaeda operators.

"We always confirmed the fact that some al-Qaeda members were in the past in Iran but were handed over to their countries," the ambassador said.

Qomi said Iran did not want to see inter-Shiite infighting in Iraq, saying that Tehran supported the Iraqi government's steps to control security in the country but not through "military force."

Iran does not believe that military action is the solution to the militia issue, the ambassador noted.

"We recommend a settlement of the problem of militias within the framework of national reconciliation and dialogue based on the Iraqi constitution," Qomi told Asharq Al-awsat.

The Iranian ambassador dismissed reports that Tehran was preparing itself to fill the security and political vacuum in Iraq once the US troops withdraw from the country.

Denying accusations that Iran was arming Iraqi militias to avert a possible US strike against it, Qomi blamed the current crisis in Iraq on "occupation forces."

Qomi played down reports that the Iranian embassy in Baghdad expanded to be the second biggest embassy in Iraq after the US, saying the number of the embassy staff had not changed since the Saddam regime.

Iran is not using economic cooperation to increase its clout in Iraq, Qoma said, noting that his country has given its neighbour "remarkable assistance" in various fields, including politics, economy, security, health and education.