Islamic government officials assured visiting Iraqi deputy prime minister that Iran supports the interim government and considers the security of the two neighboring countries "closely linked." National security council official Hasan Rowhani said Iran spares no effort in promoting Iraqi security, but added that Shiite clerics were a key factor in Iraq's relations with its neighbor.
August 30, 2004 - "Security of Iran and that of Iraq are closely linked to each other. Iraq's security is also closely associated with that of the region," secretary of the supreme national security council Hasan Rowhani told Iraqi deputy prime minister Barham Saleh, who arrived in Tehran on Sunday for a surprise visit.
"As Iraq's history shows, it is quite evident that the Shiite leadership has always taken measures in line with the country's unity, stability, security and independence," he added, after praising Ayatollah al-Sistani for resolving the standoff in Najaf between forces of the Shiite cleric Moqta Sadr and US and Iraqi troops.
"Iran is satisfied with the establishment of Iraq's interim government and the opening of the interim National Assembly in the following days," he added, according to the Islamic government's official news agency IRNA.
He added that the Shiite clerics "have always served as a key factor in developing close bonds between Iraq and other Muslim nations."
Rowhani also expressed his government's interest in strengthening Iran's political, economic, and cultural relations with Iraq. "Mutual relations will guarantee national interests of both sides, as well as the regional stability and security," he said.
Saleh was the second Iraqi deputy prime minister to visit Iran in four days. Ibrahim al-Jafari's paid a surprise visit to Tehran last Tuesday. Both trips were billed as preparation for Iraqi prime minister Iyad Alawi's future visit to Tehran. The two men visited Tehran a week after a number of Iraqi officials, including defense minister Hazim al-Shaalan accused the Islamic government of backing Shiite insurgents.
"I am carrying a message of friendship from the Iraqi government and nation for the Iranian government and nation," Saleh said.
Saleh stressed that Iran-Iraq ties should be based on friendship and full cooperation, calling for Iran's participation in Iraq's post-war reconstruction.
"Security cooperation between the two countries is quite indispensable," Saleh said.
Earlier on Sunday, Saleh met with interior minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, who also stressed the need for stability and security in Iraq.
"The enemies are afraid of good ties and coexistence between Iran and Iraq," Lari told the Iraqi deputy prime minister.
Lari also said Tehran was ready to hold talks on regulating the movement of pilgrims between the two countries.
In his meeting with Saleh also on Sunday, foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran has supported stability in Iraq.
"Any instability in Iraq has a direct effect on Iran. Stability and calm is in line with the Islamic Republic's interests," Kharrazi told Saleh. "Good relations with Iraq is advantageous to Iran."
... Payvand News - 8/31/04 ... --