Iraqi PM vows not to 'harm' Iran

Al-Maliki seeks to allay fears over US-Iraq security pact during visit to Tehran.

    Al-Maliki is under pressure at home and from Tehran due to a proposal to keep US forces in Iraq [EPA] 

    "We will not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran and neighbours," al-Maliki was quoted by the official IRNA  news agency as saying.

    Earlier, Ali al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, said al-Maliki will brief Iranian leaders on "the Iraqi vision, which is that it will not serve as a base or staging ground to launch attacks against neighbouring countries".
    "The prime minister's visit to Iran is considered a step in a series of visits ... and to form a strategy committee to develop the relationship between the two nations,"
    Last November, al-Maliki reached an agreement in principle with George Bush, US president, to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the end of July.
    However, the deal has not yet been finalised amid protests in Iraq over the US military’s presence in the country.
    'Different vision'
    Al-Dabbagh said Iraq has a "different vision" from the US on the proposal to keep American forces in the country past 2008.
    Although Iran and Iraq went to war with each other between 1980 and 1988, ties have warmed since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
    Al-Maliki's visit is a test for Washington, given that it accuses Tehran of backing Shia Muslim militia groups in Iraq. Tehran has denied the allegations.
    Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Iraq, said on Thursday that Iran and Iraq were neighbours and had to conduct a relationship.
    But he said: "The question is: What kind of relationship is it going to be?"
    Al-Maliki's visit is also expected to examine economic issues such as oil exports and the supply of electricity and water, his office said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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