Iran News ...


1/2/05

Iran slams detractors over Iraq issue

Tehran, Jan 2, IRNA -- Iran Sunday refuted again accusations of interference in Iraq's affairs, stressing that the charge was being made by 'a few individuals with a bad record'.

"Such remarks about Iran are totally baseless and Iran never interferes in Iraq's internal affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said during his weekly news briefing here.

"Iran considers security and peace in Iraq as its own and that of the region," he added.

Accusations of Iranian interference in Iraq's domestic affairs have mostly come from interim Defense Minister Hazem al-Shaalan, who is a member of the toppled Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

Tehran says the accusations merit little significance since they do not reflect an official stance.

But the country was apparently caught off guard after Jordan's King Abdullah II was quoted recently as claiming that Iran sought to influence the January 30 Iraqi elections in a bid to create a 'crescent' dominated by Shiites in the region.

The accusation has outraged Iranian officials, with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi refusing to participate at a meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Amman this month.

Asefi confirmed that the Iranian minister will not take part at the meeting and the country will instead send a low-profile delegation.

"Although we attach importance to Iraq developments and have always been among sponsors of such meetings, we will participate at a low level in the meeting," he said.

Asefi turned the tables on Iran's detractors, saying 'such interference is made by those who hold meetings with the Baathists (of the toppled Saddam Hussein's regime) in their country and discuss how to torpedo the organization of the elections in Iraq'.

"Allegations of Iranian interference in Iraq are made by a few individuals with a bad record, who are worried about the establishment of democracy in Iraq," he said.

Iran said Saturday it had received a fresh invitation from Jordan to participate at the meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Amman.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki held a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi in the day, saying, 'we persistently request Iran to participate at the meeting', according to Foreign Ministry's information and press bureau.

The Foreign Ministry said Mulki had described participation of Iran at the meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 15, as 'important'.

Iran has strongly rejected the Jordanian monarch's accusations, having been lent voice by other Muslim officials in the region who have come forth to denounce the allegations, including Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

King Abdullah had alleged that the Iranian government had encouraged more than one million Iranians to cross into Iraq, many with the objective of voting in the upcoming elections.

"It is in Iran's interest to have an Islamic republic of Iraq... and therefore the involvement you're getting by the Iranians is to achieve a government that is very pro-Iran," the Washington Post quoted him as saying on December 8.

Asefi stressed that 'Iran has no motivation for interference in Iraq's affairs'.

He said Tehran would continue to consult with all the Iraqi groups, including 'both the Shiite and Sunni brethren', to hold the elections as planned even as 'certain countries with special motives are opposed to holding them on time'.

Iran's wish to hold the elections on schedule is also the United States' command -- a rare congruity of views which have mostly clashed since they severed their diplomatic relations following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Asefi played down this coincidence, saying, "It is not just Iran and the Americans who believe the Iraq elections must go ahead as planned.

"Many European countries as well as the United Nations and the majority of the Iraqi people stress holding the elections as scheduled."

He said 'certain people are trying to give the impression that there were developments in the making behind the scene, but it is not so', tacitly rejecting any possible coordination between Tehran and Washington.

... Payvand News - 1/2/05 ... --



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