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'No evidence' of claimed Iranian incursions in Iraq, says UK's Straw

UK's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw dismissed claims that Iranian troops were trying to militarily intervene in the US-led war against Iraq as 'poor' reporting.

"The reports about Iranian militia incursions into Iran have no basis of evidence at all to substantiate what we regard as poor reports from the media about this," Straw told parliament.

"I see no evidence about this at all and, moreover, we have good relations with the government of Iran and I was only in touch with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi talking about this and other matters last Thursday," he said.

The BBC reported Tuesday that several hundred British Royal Marines had been deployed along Iraq's southern border with Iran following claims of incursions by Iranian troops.

"The deployment is the furthest east for British troops so far and is seen as a sign that the UK and US are concerned Iran could try and exploit uncertainty caused by the war," the BBC said.

UK to act against anti-Iran terrorist group in Iraq, says Blair

Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed Tuesday that the war against Iraq will include act against the exiled Iranian Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MKO) terrorist group based near Baghdad, IRNA reported from London.

"With regard to terrorist groups, we have already said clearly that we will act against them as we need to," Blair said in response to a question asking what would happen to the MKO, which the British government has already outlawed as a terrorist group.

The prime minister was speaking to foreign and British journalists at his first press conference since the start of the US-led war against Iraq last week.

He claimed that a 'huge amount' had been achieved so far in the war despite what was seen as a series of military setbacks following the failure to encourage a mass defection of Iraqi troops.

The military strategy was going according to plan, Blair insisted, but he refused to say whether the war was more likely to be months than weeks. "There is absolutely no point in getting to speculate how long it takes," he said.

He confirmed that he would be flying to meet US President George W Bush on Wednesday before holding talks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday.

But the prime minister denied that he was going to the US because of the lack of agreement on a new Security Council resolution to endorse the setting up of a civilian administration in Iraq after the war.

"There was common ground between us (Bush), the UN has got to be involved," he said but without referring to whether the new administration would be under the auspices of the United Nations.

Press speculation was that Blair was going to the US to also press Bush to meet his promise to publish the long-delayed 'road map' for a Palestinian state.

It was not known if the two leaders would be reviewing the military strategy in the war against amid concern that more troops may be needed to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein.

British Embassy says Abadan explosion could have been work of Iraqis

The British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday announced that the Iraqis were most likely behind the explosion at the Abadan oil refinery on Thursday, March 20.

In a press release faxed to IRNA, the British Embassy in Tehran said that the UK Ministry of Defense has examined the information it had received on the incident and has arrived at the conclusion given the Iraqis' position in the current war in the region.

Earlier, Abadan Governor Jamal Alemi was quoted as saying that an Iranian refinery depot in the southwestern city of Abadan was hit by a rocket fired from an American plane early Friday night.

Three people, including a guard of the depot, were injured in the attack, he said, adding that US planes violated Iranian airspace above Abadan five times Friday night.

The statement further said that the British Embassy has forwarded the Ministry of Defense's conclusions to the Iranian government.

In the ongoing war on Iraq, the US-led coalition has said that it is doing its best to minimize civilian casualties in accordance with the rules of international law and this includes not targeting civilian infrastructure, the embassy said.

... Payvand News - 3/25/03 ... --

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