Monday, April 30, 2007

Iranian Envoy Tells Iraq's Al-Maliki: "U.S. Military Presence In Iraq Is Serious Threat"

The AP reports:
A senior Iranian envoy has told Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is a serious threat to Iran's security but Tehran is willing to moderate its policies if it receives security guarantees from the U.S., an official familiar with the talks said Monday.
The exchange took place during a meeting Sunday between al-Maliki and Ali Larijani, the most senior Iranian official to visit Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The Associated Press was briefed about the talks by an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was nor authorized to release the information.

According to the official, Larijani told al-Maliki that Iran's national security "is not for compromise" and "above all considerations."

The prime minister replied that Iraq's security is very important to his government "and we need help from neighboring countries."

"Your (Iran's) conflict is with the America," al-Maliki said.

Larijani responded that Iraq is "part of the United States" because of the presence of more than 140,000 U.S. troops. More are expected next month as part of the Baghdad security operation.

"Iraq is part of America's project and for that reason we are forced to deal this way with it. America's presence in Iraq is a serious danger to us. Iraq now is part of this danger," Larijani said.

Al-Maliki tried to convince Larijani that his government would not allow the U.S. to attack Iran from Iraq, saying the Iraqis were prepared to offer guarantees.

"What guarantee? If America gave the guarantees then we will be reassured and our strategy will change," the Iranian replied.

On Monday, Larijani met with representatives of the Shiite bloc in parliament the United Iraqi Alliance.

Legislator Hamid al-Muala, a member of the bloc, said the Iraqis were encouraged by the meeting.

"He told us that everyone is responsible for achieving security in Iraq, not only Iran. Iran does not have a magic wand to solve the crisis," al-Muala said. "This is a very important visit and it will lead to positive steps."