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Iranian FM terms talks with Iraqi officials "satisfactory"

Tehran, May 20, IRNA-Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in Tehran on Thursday evening that he had held satisfactory talks with the top religious and political officials of Iraq during his three-day visit to the country.

Speaking to reporters at Mehrabad airport, Kharrazi described the main purpose of his visit to voice Iran's support for the new Iraqi government.

He also said he had declared Iran's readiness to help Iraqi people overcome their economic and security problems in his meetings with Iraqi officials.

Kharrazi highlighted the need for the Iraqis to promote national unity and solidarity, stressing that he had told the officials of various Iraqi groups, including the United Iraq Alliance, that the future of the country depends on the unity of all groups.

He hoped that the new Iraqi government will be able to establish security in the country and provide the people with their daily requirements.

Turning to the dilemmas facing the Iraqis after several years of war and the relevant pressure, he reiterated that Iraq needs to be supported by its neighboring states to overcome the current situation and take steps towards development.

"During the meetings with Iraqi officials, it was decided to reopen consulate offices in both countries. Besides, the Iraqi officials promised to set free the Iranian pilgrims who are currently in prison for having entered Iraq illegally," he said.

"Moreover, to promote bilateral ties, more frequent exchange of visits between the ministers of the two countries was encouraged.

A supreme commission comprising Iraqi prime minister and Iran's first vice president was suggested to be established in order to examine the issues of mutual concern," Kharrazi added.

The Iranian foreign minister pointed to his negotiations with various Iraqi authorities, in particular the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the relevant talks.

Kharrazi underscored the spiritual and paternal role of Ayatollah Sistani in reducing the grief and sufferings of Shiites and the Iraqi people alltogether.

He said Iran hopes that Ayatollah Sistani will continue his spiritual and guiding role so that the Iraqis would be able to resolve their internal problems through his guidance.

Kharrazi referred to the beginning of a new era is Iraq and hoped that as neighbors the two governments and nations will live a peaceful life through close cooperation with each other.

Concerning the presence of foreign troops in Iraq, he noted that all countries are aware of this problem and that today they consider it as a reality.

"Promotion of security across the country by the Iraqi forces is of great importance. If the Iraqi government succeeds to attain such a goal, the presence of foreign troops in the country will be unnecessary," the Iranian foreign minister added.

In response to a question on US dissatisfaction against Iran-Iraq cooperation, Kharrazi said that Iran will continue its policies and will try to secure its own interests and those of its neighbors irrespecive of US pressures.

In reply to another question on whether Iran and Iraq had signed a peace agreement to be the first step towards establishment of mutual friendly ties, the Iranian foreign minister said that such an agreement had not been mentioned in the meetings and that there is no need for it.

"The existing agreements between the two countries are sufficient.

What is important is that those agreements are implemented and the era of war is forgotten," he added.

During his three-day visit to Iraq, Kharrazi met the Iraqi president, premier, parliament speaker, foreign minister and several other political figures in Baghdad.

He also conferred with Ayatollah Sistani and a number of Ulema in the holy city of Najaf.

... Payvand News - 5/20/05 ... --

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