Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei told visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that US-led forces had to leave Iraq if security was to be restored in the violence-riven country.
“The first step to solve the security issue in Iraq is the exit of the occupiers from this country and leaving the security issues to the people-based Iraqi government,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by state television.
“Americans will absolutely not succeed in Iraq and the continuation of Iraq’s occupation is not a mouthful that Americans can swallow,” Khamenei said Tuesday during a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
“The main reason for the current situation in Iraq is the US policies that are being carried out by some intermediaries,” the Iranian leader said.
He put the blame for Iraq’s insecurity on “some US agents in the region who are mediators of these policies”.
“Reinforcing terrorist groups and inflaming the wave of insecurity and killings in Iraq will be very dangerous for the US agents and the region,” Khamenei said.
He also pledged that the Islamic republic would come to Iraq’s assistance if requested.
“If the Iraqi government asks, Iran will not refrain from any action to establish stability and security in this country.”
“Americans will absolutely not succeed in Iraq and the continuation of Iraq’s occupation is not a mouthful that Americans can swallow,” Khamenei told him.
Talabani, paying a three-day official visit to the Shiite-dominated neighbouring country, has acknowledged he came to seek Tehran’s help in curbing bloodshed which is increasingly being perceived as civil war.
During his trip to Tehran, Talabani also received fresh vows of assistance from his counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stem the violence in war-torn Iraq.
Washington and London, whose forces are battling insurgents in Iraq, accuse Tehran of fomenting the sectarian conflict.
Iran has strongly denied meddling in Iraq, insisting repeatedly that the Iraqi conflict will be resolved if the occupation forces pull out of Iraq.
At a meeting with Talabani on Monday, Ahmadinejad promised to do all his country could. “We will help our Iraqi brothers with all that we can to implement and reinforce security in Iraq,” the Iranian president said.
Talabani told reporters as he arrived in Tehran: “We need Iran’s comprehensive help to fight terrorism, restore security and stabilize Iraq.”
The Iraqi president, whose Patriotic Union of Kurdistan has in the past been backed by Iran, made a landmark visit to Tehran in November 2005. He said at the time he had won Iran’s promise of support for his government’s battle with insurgents.
His latest plea for help came as a fresh outbreak of violence left dozens dead across Iraq. The bodies of at least 40 people bearing torture marks were recovered after being dumped in various parts of the capital.
The Iran visit coincides with a flurry of diplomatic activity to try to resolve the worsening situation in Iraq, with US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki set to meet Wednesday in the Jordanian capital Amman.
Washington’s staunch ally Britain on Monday condemned what it called Iran’s behaviour in inciting violence in Iraq.
British Defence Secretary Des Browne warned the Islamic republic against seeing Iraq as a “tool in a wider confrontation” — a reference to US-led efforts to force Tehran to curb its nuclear plans which the West suspects hide ambitions for nuclear weapons.
Tehran insists its atomic plans are only for civilian use.