US accuses Iran of "unhelpful activities" in Iraq
Reuters | March 17 2006
U.S. officials in Iraq on Friday again accused Iran of meddling in its neighbor's internal affairs, saying the Islamic Republic was carrying out "unhelpful activities" there.
A U.S. embassy statement said Washington was "concerned about unhelpful Iranian activities in Iraq. These concerns are well known and we have talked about them."
The statement was issued one day after Iran said it accepted a proposal by a leading Iraqi Shi'ite leader to open a dialogue with the United States on Iraq.
Also on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she believed U.S. talks with Iran on stabilizing Iraq would be "useful".
Iranian officials had previously said Tehran was not interested in discussions before U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq.
The United States, which is leading diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions, accuses Iran of contributing to instability in Iraq. Iran denies the charges.
Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Tehran accepted "the proposal to help resolve the problems in Iraq and establish an independent government there".
But the embassy statement responding to his comments said: "The future of Iraq will not be decided by the United States, Iran or any other country. Iraqis will decide the future of Iraq.
It noted U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had been authorized by the White House to enter into talks with Iran on the issue.
Larijani reiterated on Friday that Iran favored an end to Iraq's occupation by U.S.-led forces as a step toward Iraq's full sovereignty.
"Iran's motivation is to help establishment of permanent security in Iraq and get out of suppression by the occupiers," the official IRNA news agency quoted Larijani as saying.
"We insist to have transparent talks (with Washington) and reiterate once again that we would do whatever needed to aid the sovereign Iraqi government."
(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran)
Last modified March 17, 2006