AFP: The United States said Wednesday that Iran should not exploit its improving ties with Iraq to interfere in the affairs of
the fledgling government in Baghdad. Zalmay Khalilzad, about to take up his post as the new US ambassador to Iraq, said however, that Washington did want the once warring neighbours to get along. AFP
WASHINGTON – The United States said Wednesday that Iran should not exploit its improving ties with Iraq to interfere in the affairs of the fledgling government in Baghdad.
Zalmay Khalilzad, about to take up his post as the new US ambassador to Iraq, said however, that Washington did want the once warring neighbours to get along.
“It is not US policy to advocate or promote a hostile relationship between Iraq and Iran, they are neighbours,” Khalilzad said at a briefing.
“We want to see these two countries have good relations with each other, but good relations also means that everything be done that is not interference in Iraqi affairs.”
“All the neighbours may not seek to dominante particular Iraqi institutions, or Iraqi areas, and (should) work together to have an Iraq that can works for all Iraqis that can stand on its own feet, is at peace internally, as well as at peace with its neigbours.”
Khalilzad often struck a similar theme in his last assignment as ambassador to Afghanistan, which has been plagued by interference by outside powers for decades.
Iraq’s defence minister Saadun al-Dulaimi made a landmark visit to Iran last week, and called for reconciliation.
“We have come here to turn a painful page and to open another,” he said at a press conference with Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani.
Dulaimi pledged the two sides would begin military and anti-terrorist cooperation, but rebuffed Iranian calls for US troops to pull out of Iraq immediately.
Relations between Iran and the United States are tense over Washington’s claims Tehran is seeking to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Tehran has also been accused of backing Iraqi insurgents and Palestinian militants.
Khalilzad said Iraq and its neighbours needed to adopt a new mindset for regional relations, much as European nations decided after World War II to work together to ensure mutual security.
Khalilzad also bemoaned the kidnapping and execution of Egyptian envoy Ihab al-Sharif, who was abducted on a Baghdad street on July 2, but said the killing should not deter other states from sending diplomats to the Iraqi capital.
The murder showed that those beyond the violence were “barbaric, they are beyond the pale,” said Khalilzad.
“I think that it is important not to give in to the terrorists, we have to take appropriate security measures for the diplomats,” he said.
“Baghdad is a dangerous place, I don’t want to understate that, but appropriate security measures can be taken and should be taken.”
Security was the prime responsibility of the Iraqi government and the diplomat’s country of origin, but the United States was willing to do what it could do to help security for envoys, Khalilzad said.