U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has dismissed the Iranian president's call for Iraqis to reject a security agreement, which would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for three years.
Rice told reporters Thursday in Mexico that Iraqis can defend their interests without the input of Iranians.
Iran's state news agency published remarks today by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he said Iraq could defend itself and block the influence of foreigners.
Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments came during a visit to Tehran by the president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Massud Barzani.
Barzani, who supports the pact, is in Iran to seek backing for the measure.
Iran has close ties to the Shi'ite parties who dominate Iraq's government and have opposed the draft agreement, saying it undermines Iraqi sovereignty.
U.S. officials have warned that failure to sign the accord would have significant consequences.
The draft agreement reached last week calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011, unless Baghdad asks them to stay. It also would give Iraq's government limited authority to prosecute American soldiers who commit serious crimes outside U.S. bases while off duty.
A Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, Wednesday accused the Iranian government of seeking to derail the agreement by trying to influence Iraqis through the orchestrating of opposition rallies and apparent attempts to bribe Iraqi politicians.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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