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Iran giving 'huge' assistance to Iraq's reconstruction,says Talabani

Member of Iraq's Interim Governing Council Jalal Talabani Wednesday praised Iran's contribution to the post-war efforts to rebuild Iraq despite the billions in compensation owed to Iran for Saddam Hussein's eight-year war during the 1980s, IRNA reported from London.

"Iran didn't ask for one cent of us but they provided huge assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq," Talabani said during a press conference in London.

He said that he had just led a delegation of seven ministers to Tehran and in discussions with their Iranian counterparts, he was not aware of the issue of compensation being raised.

The leader of the Patriotic Front of Kurdistan said that he was asking his Arab brothers and neighbouring countries to understand Iraq's position and "be more generous than European countries."

The press conference was being held after members of the governing council, headed by the current chairman Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, had talks with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and early met Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Hakim said that Iraq had a responsibility to respect a Security Council resolution regarding Iranian compensation for Saddam's 1980-88 war but suggested that there were the current difficulties in the country's ability to pay.

At the start of the press conference with Straw,the British Foreign Secretary passed on his condolences for the recent martyrdom of the council chairman's brother, Grand Ayatollah Hakim, saying that Saddam's regime had been responsible for killing 63 members of the family, including eight brothers.

He said that he hoped the arrest of the former Iraqi president would lead to reconciliation. He insisted that Iraq would be free to make it's own independent decisions even if the current occupying powers, the US and UK, disagreed like over the the possible death penalty for Saddam.

Straw expressed support for holding the trial of Saddam for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq, saying it was widely accepted that any such prosecutions in a post-conflict situation be conducted in the given country by the people. He also insisted that Iraq had highly qualified jurist and was confident that the people "can do the job."

Hakim said that the international community would be allowed to be observers of the conduct of the court during the trial and said that politicians would have to abide by the verdict.

... Payvand News - 12/18/03 ... --

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