Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said here Sunday that Iran considers a stable and secure Iraq as a strong factor in its favor and supports efforts to bring peace to the country. Mottaki made the remarks during a meeting with former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari.
He pointed to Jaafari’s constructive role in the formation of a democratic government in Iraq in accordance with the people’s mandate, and said restoration of stability in Iraq would depend on decisions of the country’s senior officials.
He said efforts of the US in the past 16 years to establish its version of democracy in the region failed and led Washington to change its strategy and support moderate regimes.
“The abduction by US forces of Iranian consular officials in the Iraqi city of Erbil and an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad shows the White House is confused.
“It ordered the abduction because it found no Iranian national in Baghdad from whom it could extract evidence of Iranian
interference in Iraqi affairs,” Mottaki said.
US forces broke into Iran’s consulate in Erbil on January 11 after disarming its guards and using force to break open the gate of the consulate building.
They ransacked the place, arrested six consular staff (one of whom has since been released). They also seized the consulate’s computers and documents.
Meanwhile, the second secretary of the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, Jalal Sharafi, was also abducted by masked men in front of the Baghdad branch of the Iranian state-owned Bank Melli on February 4 and taken to an undisclosed place.
The five abducted Iranian consular staff and Iranian diplomat are still being held.
The Iranian minister said Tehran believes it has a duty to back the Iraqi government and called on the Iraqi government to support Iranian companies and facilitate their carrying out of their industrial and development projects in Iraq in line with the Iranian policy.
Jaafari, for his part, praised Iran’s support for establishment of a democratic government and for its efforts toward reconstruction of the war-torn country, and called for use of Iranian experiences in the reconstruction work in Iraq.
He said moves by Ba’ath Party agents encouraging sectarianism in Iraq and the weak performance of multinational forces have escalated violence in the country.
The former premier said that Baghdad was making plans to allow foreign forces to eventually withdraw from the country.
He said Tehran-Baghdad ties were “vital” and that an upcoming meeting of foreign ministers of Iraqi neighboring states plus Egypt in Baghdad would play an effective role in strengthening the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Such meeting of foreign ministers of Iraqi neighboring states plus Egypt was first proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, he added.
Jaafari and Mottaki, during their meeting, also discussed avenues for bolstering bilateral relations in various fields.