Iran Urges US Withdrawal from Iraq

A0258202.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki once again reiterated the need for the withdrawal of the US troops from the war-wrecked Iraq.

Mottaki pointed out that keeping Iraq under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter is no more necessary.

“It is necessary to draw up a timetable for withdrawal of occupying forces from Iraq because the continuation of foreigners’ presence in the country will cause insecurity and instability,” Mottaki said in a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in New York Monday.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 63rd annual session of the UN General Assembly.

Chapter VII deems Iraq as an outlawed country and constrains its political, military and economic activities because of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait under former dictator Saddam Hussein in 1990.

More than five years after the fall of the former dictator and the establishment of a democratically-elected government in the country, the UN has yet to remove Iraq from Chapter VII.

Mottaki said that administration of various affairs has been transferred to the Iraqi government during the past six months and peace has been partially established in the country.

Zebari also agreed that security situation is improving in Iraq.

He assessed as “positive and constructive” the meetings between senior officials of the two countries and called for the further strengthening of ties in line with bilateral interests.

The US is in talks with Iraqi officials to get them to sign a provocative security agreement which secures long-term US presence in Iraq.

If ratified by the Iraqi government, the Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) would also grant US forces in Iraq immunity from prosecution.

It also gives the occupation forces a free rein to stage military operations wherever and whenever they deem necessary, without consulting the Iraqi government.

Tehran is concerned that the yet-not-concluded security deal could lead to establishment of permanent US bases in the neighboring country.

The proposed pact is also facing widespread opposition among Iraqi politicians.

Many fear Washington has plans to keep permanent bases, despite a denial of any such plan written into the proposal. Iraqis say the drafts submitted by the Americans thus far would infringe on Iraq’s sovereignty by giving US forces too much freedom to operate.

The security pact also faces strong criticism from members of al-Maliki’s own coalition. Two Iraqi officials familiar with the negotiations have warned that a deal is unlikely to be reached before the end of President Bush’s term in January unless Washington backs off some demands seen as giving American forces too much freedom to operate in Iraq and infringing on Iraqi sovereignty.

Iraq’s parliament must approve the deal, and the two officials said opposition in the legislature was so widespread that it stood no chance of winning approval without significant changes in the US position.

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