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Iran rejects reports over illegal Iranian trips into Iraq

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi on Sunday rejected reports over illegal trips of Iranian nationals into Iraq, stressing that Iran's borders with Iraq are under control, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"Our borders are under control and we confront anyone who illegally crosses the borders," Asefi told reporters at his weekly press conference.

"We never allow any group to cross into Iraq from the Islamic Republic."

He refreshed Iran's calls that the occupation troops must leave Iraq as soon as possible, and criticized the US for pinning the blame for the problems that have resulted from the occupation of Iraq on foreign elements.

"The occupation troops will face more problems day by day. We had declared before that it is to the benefit of the occupiers to leave Iraq," Asefi said.

"The US arrogantly entered Iraq on the basis of wrong calculations, and they soon realized that the Iraq quagmire is more complicated than what they had imagined".

The Foreign Ministry spokesman recalled Iran's programs for the reconstruction of Iraq, stressing that those programs are within the frameworks of UN.

"The Iraqi officials from the beginning voiced interest toward Iran's participation in (the reconstruction of) Iraq. We do not think that this is a problem from the viewpoint of the Iraqi officials," he said.

Asefi further recalled the failure of the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to participate in a ministerial meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Damascus, stressing that Tehran believes that Iraq's presence in the meeting could have proved "very fruitful".

He further stressed that Iraq's neighbors are worried about the insecurity, terrorism and instability in the country, adding that Iraq's neighbors have their own worries in that connection.

Asefi also recalled the issue of the presence of foreign troops from regional states in Iraq, stressing that any measure to that effect must be first approved by the Iraqi people and must be carried out under the aegis of UN.

"We do not consider the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq as positive, even though Turkish officials have apparently reviewed their decision (to send troops to Iraq)," he said.

Kharrazi rejects charges of Iran's meddling in Iraq affairs

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, speaking in Damascus on Saturday evening, categorically rejected that Iran is meddling in Iraq's domestic affairs, stressing that the proponents of such allegations are merely trying to keep a lid on their failures in Iraq.

Kharrazi told IRNA after a ministerial meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Damascus, Syria that those who accuse Iran of interference in Iraq must provide proof for their claims.

"We are confident that they can produce no proof for their claims," he said.

Kharrazi said Iran only provides spiritual support for the Iraqi nation, stressing that Tehran has never been pursuing interference in Iraq.

"Although Iran is naturally enjoying a significant influence in Iraq by considering the common affinities between the Iranian and the Iraqi nations, the Islamic Republic has never been seeking interference in Iraq," he said.

"Tehran wants nothing but the good for the Iraqi nation, and I hope that a representative and democratically elected government would be soon established in Iraq".

Kharrazi stressed that Iran is strongly against any effort to sow discord in Iraq.

He also refreshed calls on occupation forces to leave Iraq as soon as possible, stressing that the Iraqi people must be enabled to control the affairs of the country under UN aegis.

Kharrazi said all Iraq's neighbors are worried about the developments in the country, adding that any development in Iraq, particularly in the area of security, will affect its neighbors.

The fourth meeting of foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors opened here behind closed doors on Saturday.

Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, and Turkey are taking part in the meeting.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari refused to take part in the meeting as he said he had been invited to the meeting " too late" and "in an inappropriate way".

... Payvand News - 11/2/03 ... --

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