U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker says the
door is open to further discussions with Iran on the situation in Iraq. VOA's
Paula Wolfson has details from Washington.
Ambassador Crocker says he is willing to hold more
talks with Iranian officials under certain conditions.
Preparing the Battlefield: The Bush Administration steps up its
secret moves against Iran.
by Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker
L ate last year, Congress agreed to a
request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert
operations against Iran, according to current and former military,
intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the
President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a
Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the
country's religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of
the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident
organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran's
suspected nuclear-weapons program.
"It is important to have talks for a purpose, not just for the sake of having
another session," said Ambassador Crocker. "So we will need to choose the timing
when we think it will improve the situation and actually make some progress."
During an appearance on CNN's Late Edition program, Crocker said Iranian
influence in Iraq is declining, in large part because of a series of successes
against militias backed by Tehran.
"What we are seeing is a significant decrease in extremist militia capability
because the Iraqi security forces are literally taking them off the streets," he
The ambassador was then asked about a report in The New Yorker Magazine that
details what the author describes as a major escalation of U.S. covert
operations in Iran.
Crocker acknowledged he had not read the report, but he denied one accusation in
the article - that U.S. forces are crossing the Iraq-Iran border, seizing wanted
members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraqi soil for
"I can tell you flatly that U.S. forces are not operating across the Iraqi
border into Iran in the south or anywhere else," said Crocker.
The reporter behind the magazine article, Seymour
Hersh, told CNN he was not surprised by the ambassador's comments. He said
diplomats may know little about the scope of the program, which he said was
approved by the U.S. Congress at the request of the president.
"I think this is another example of putting an awful lot of pressure on the
Iranian government," said Seymour Hersh.
Meanwhile, there has been no official response from the Bush administration to
the release of a new study by U.S. Army historians on mistakes made during the
early phases of the Iraq war.
The lengthy report cites a lack of planning and vision by American military and
civilian leaders in the period from May 2003 to January 2005. It concludes they
were too focused on toppling Saddam Hussein, and did not look ahead to what
might happen in Iraq in the days that followed.
... Payvand News - 06/30/08 ... --
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