Iraq not to allow operations against Iran: Zebari
* Iraqi FM tells Iranian counterpart that country’s constitution doesn’t allow any group to mount attacks on neighbours
* Salehi meets PM Maliki, discusses PMOI issue
BAGHDAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with Iraq’s prime minister and foreign minister in Baghdad on Wednesday in his second trip abroad since taking over the post.
“We look forward to Iraq returning to its full independence and security,” Salehi, who was born in Karbala in central Iraq, told a news conference in Baghdad.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the news conference that Salehi had met with Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki and that one of the issues discussed was the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), an Iraq-based Iranian opposition group. “Our constitution doesn’t allow any organisation to be on our land and attack our neighbours, and we are committed to that,” Zebari said, without providing details on the talks.
The PMOI fought against Iran during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and was disarmed following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. A lawyer for plaintiffs in a case filed in Spain said on Tuesday that a Spanish judge is to probe a raid by Iraqi police and soldiers on the PMOI’s Camp Ashraf in July 2009 that killed 11 people. Iraqi police chief Major General Abdul Hussein al-Shemmari has been called to appear before the court.
Iranian officials have expressed hope that the new Iraqi government, which was approved by parliament on December 21, would help stabilise the war-torn country and lead to the exit of the ‘occupying’ US forces. Iran has regularly called for US troops to leave Iraq, citing their presence as the main cause of violence in its western neighbour.
Salehi’s appointment as foreign minister, which is yet to be ratified by the Iranian parliament, came after Ahmadinejad sacked his predecessor Manouchehr Mottaki.
Ties between predominantly Shiite Iran and Shia-majority Iraq have warmed considerably since the overthrow of Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime in a US-led invasion in 2003.
Officials from around the Middle East have been streaming into Iraq since the new Shia-led government was sworn in last month, nine months after an inconclusive election that led to prolonged political wrangling. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi’s visit came a few days after Jordan and Egypt sent senior delegations.
Iraq’s mainly Sunni neighbours are racing to try to regain their influence in Iraq, partly to counter Iran’s rising power. Iraq and Iran were long bitter rivals, especially under Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime, and fought a brutal eight year war in the 1980s, which killed hundreds of thousands on both sides. agencies