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Iran mulling to summon Iraqi diplomat

Tehran, Aug 8, IRNA -- Iran's Foreign Ministry said Sunday it was summoning Iraq's top diplomat to Tehran for explanation following accusations by officials of the Iraqi interim government against Iran.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi dismissed allegations of Iranian interference in Iraq's internal affairs by saying these were 'without evidence`.

"We have repeatedly announced that we don't want to interfere in Iraq and we are after tranquility, stability and strengthening security in Iraq," he said in his weekly news briefing.

Iraq's Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan last week branded Iran as Iraq's `first enemy`, and has accused Tehran of `blatant interference` in Iraq's domestic affairs.

Asefi said, "Mr. Allawi (Prime Minister Iyad Allawi) has announced that the defense minister's statements have been distorted ... we hope it is so and we will not witness irresponsible remarks in the future."

The Iraqi newspaper Al-Zaman quoted an Iraqi intelligence official as saying four Iranian intelligence officers had been arrested in Iraq for conducting 'espionage and sabotage`.

Asefi said, "These statements indicate that there is some incoherence in Iraq's (official) apparatus and the Iraqis are required to be vigilant."

Asefi said Tehran believes there is need for 'practical and wise methods to resolve Iraq's domestic crisis`.

The official also dismissed al-Shalaan's demand for the immediate return of some Iraqi planes which landed on the Iranian soil at the start of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

"A few planes came to Iran during Saddam's rule, but their extradition is a marginal issue.

"We have some other major issues to discuss with the permanent and elected government of Iraq in the future and these issues are not anything to be discussed with the transitional government," Asefi added.

The official said the Foreign Ministry was considering to send a formal message for Allawi to visit Iran.

Asefi condemned escalating clashes in Iraqi cities, which have mostly centered around holy sites, including the shrine compound of the fist Imam of Shi'ite Muslims, Imam Ali (AS).

"Insults are not acceptable at all whether they are directed at the Iraqi people and hurting them or at the holy places.

"US rulers must understand that force, threats, intrigues and pressures will resolve nothing in Iraq, they will rather escalate the crisis," he said.

Asefi said, "One probable reason for escalation of crisis in Iraq is that America is worried about the transfer of power to the Iraqi people in the coming days.

"It seems that America seeks to create crisis in Iraq in order to justify its presence in the country," he added.

... Payvand News - 8/8/04 ... --

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