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Talabani: US ready to give security guarantees to Iran

Tehran, Jan 10, IRNA -- Jalal Talabani, Leader of the Iraqi opposition Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), said here Friday that the United States was ready to give security guarantees to Iran against probable consequences of an American attack on Iraq.

"Americans say they will take no action against Iran and that they are ready to give any guarantee which Iran wants," he told reporters at a hotel here at the end of his visit to the Islamic Republic.

Talabani stressed that he was orally quoting US officials and that he was not carrying any written message from Americans for the Islamic Republic.

"I heard from American officials who asked to tell Iranians that they had no bad intention against Iran in the Iraqi crisis," he said, without disclosing the names of the sources.

"Americans said Washington and Tehran have common interests and that Iraq had inflicted large damage on Iran and America would take no action against Iran in this crisis," the Kurdish leader repeated.

Tehran and Washington have held no diplomatic ties after the US severed its relations with the Islamic Republic after 'Students Following the Line of Imam' stormed the American embassy here in 1979, known as the den of espionage, and took its staff hostage.

US President George W. Bush has labelled Iran as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea, accusing the country of seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, which Tehran rejects.

Talabani arrived in Tehran late Monday to discuss the ongoing situation in Iraq. Upon arrival in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah, which is home to Iranian Kurds, he said the US would certainly attack Iraq if Saddam did not voluntarily step down.

His visit coincided with the United States' build-up of its military presence in the Persian Gulf, accusing Iraq of having failed to come clean with its arms programs.

Talabani's visit also came following last month's visit by his arch rival, Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, who discussed Iraq's future with the head of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmad Chalabi, and leaders of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) in Tehran.

Talabani also met with several top members of the SCIRI, in which the two sides agreed to go ahead with a scheduled meeting of Iraqi opposition in Arbil on January 15, a SCIRI member, Mohsen Hakim, said.

"The two sides agreed that the first meeting of the coordination committee of the Iraqi opposition (to decide on) the transitional period to go ahead as scheduled in the Iraqi Kurdistan," he said.

The coordination committee, named during a meeting of more than 300 delegates of the Iraqi dissidents in London on December 14-16, aims to liaise over the formation of a transitional government for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Iraqi opposition delegates agreed in the London meeting to form the committee to coordinate between opposition groups and follow up the conference's decision.

... Payvand News - 1/10/03 ... --

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