Iran to host Iraq security conference juillet 7, 2006Posted by Acturca in Etats-Unis, Moyen Orient, Turquie.
Agence France Presse – English
July 7, 2006 Friday, Tehran
Iran will this weekend host a regional conference on security in Iraq, with the Islamic republic likely to use the event to again call for a withdrawal of foreign troops from its neighbour.
The meeting will gather officials from Iraq and its neighbours — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey — plus Egypt, the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
"The cooperation of these countries on Iraq and security issues will be on the agenda," Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in June when announcing plans for Saturday and Sunday’s event.
"A clear message will be sent from this meeting, in that these countries support the implementation of security in Iraq." Iranian media said Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has arrived in Tehran for the meeting, and officials said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would also give a sppech at the opening session.
The last such session took place in April 2005 in Istanbul with little noticeable effect, and a previous meeting in Tehran in November 2004 also failed to yield concrete results.
Majority Shiite Iran has seen a reversal of its relations with Baghdad since the US invasion, enjoying close links with a government dominated by Shiite and Kurdish figures who in the past had sought refuge in Iran.
But the two sides, as well as Iraq’s neighbours as a whole, remain at odds over the source of the violence. Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the head of parliament’s largest bloc and leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), has been urging Iran to go into direct security talks with the United States.
"It is to the benefit of the Iraqi people that Iran and the United States talk about Iraq because the US is present in the region," he said in Tehran last month. "At first they were supposed to talk, which did not happen due to certain issues. We hope Iran and the United States have a dialogue both about Iraq and the nuclear issue," he added.
But Iran has ruled out such talks, with the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeating to Hakim his view that US and other foreign troops should leave Iraq.
"Iraq’s current security problems will only be resolved if the occupiers leave and the security issues are handed over to the Iraqi people and government," Khamenei said.
Iran — along with Syria — has also been repeatedly accused of supporting insurgents. At the last meeting in Tehran, the Iraqi delegation complained of lax border controls. Iran responded by demanding tougher action against the People’s Mujahedeen, a banned armed opposition group based in Iraq. Last month the top US commander in Iraq, General George Casey, said Iran was a major force behind unrest in Iraq, adding that Tehran trains and arms violent Shiite groups and uses "surrogates" to carry out terrorist strikes. "Since January, we have seen an upsurge in their support, particularly to the Shiite extremist groups … It’s decidedly unhelpful," he said.
"They are using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations in Iraq both against us and against the Iraqi people."
Iran has consistently rejected the allegations, and the conference is a public way of highlighting its stated position that it wants the violence to end. "Iran rejects comments made by some US officials regarding involvement in Iraq, since these allegations are in line with the US officials’ efforts to cover up their weaknesses and to justify their defeats in Iraq," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
"Contrary to the United States, Iran wants to have a united, strong and integrated Iraq as its neighbour, which would be helpful in consolidating security and stability in the region."